|You might say that the work of a scientist is to solve problems. But when you decide how to dress on a particular day, you are doing problem solving, too. You may observe what the weather looks like through a window. You may go outside and see whether what you are wearing is warm or cool enough.
Scientists use an orderly approach to learn new information and to solve problems. The methods scientists may use include observing to form a hypothesis, designing an experiment to test a hypothesis, separating and controlling variables, and interpreting data.
Following are some of the scientific processes that are used:
- Observing: You observe all the time. Scientists try to observe as much as possible about the things and events they study so they know that what they say about their observations is reliable.
Some observations describe something using only words. These observations are called qualitative observations. Other observations describe how much of something there is. These are quantitative observations and use numbers, as well as words, in the description. Tools or equipment are used to measure the characteristic being described.
- Measuring: Measurement is an observation made more specific by comparing some attributes of a system to a standard of reference. An example is when the length of an object is expressed in terms of the length of a meter or when the mass of an object is expressed by referring to a standard such as a gram. Measurement and observation are the only process skills that are actually two forms of the same thing.
For instance, academic scholarship can be expressed as a grade. When one receives an "A" or a "C" in a course one's performance has been measured relative to a standard. In a similar fashion, a four star restaurant is a measure of quality.
- Predicting: When you apply a hypothesis, or general explanation, to a specific situation, you predict something about that situation. First, you must identify which hypothesis fits the situation you are considering.
People use prediction to make everyday decisions. Based on previous observations and experiences, you may form a hypothesis that if it is winter time, then temperature will be lower. From past experience in your area, you may know that temperatures are the lowest in January. You may then use this hypothesis to predict specific temperatures and weather for the month of January in advance. Someone could use these predictions to plan to set aside more money for heating bills during that month.
Directions: Answer the following questions.