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Steps to a Scientific Method - An Indroduction to the Scientific Method in Order


The Scientific Method

Science allows us to attempt to explain the workings of the natural world. In order for a scientific experiment to be considered valid, it should follow the scientific method - an established procedure for conducting and analysing an experiment. The six basic Steps to a Scientific Method include:

  • Establish a Purpose/Aim
  • Perform Research
  • Develop a Hypothesis
  • Conduct the Experiment
  • Analyse Results
  • State a Conclusion

Each of these steps to a scientific method will be examined below, using the popular apple browning experiment as an example.

(1) Establish a Purpose/Aim:
Every experiment must have a specific and well defined purpose. A relevant question must be asked; one that can be readily tested with materials and technology available. Using the example of the apple browning experiment, a suitable aim would be something along the lines of: To investigate the effect of different liquids on the rate of browning of apples.

(2) Perform Research:
In order to understand how to conduct the investigation, general research into the science and theory of the experiment will have to be performed. Valuable information can readily be found on the internet and in science text books. Materials required and safety considerations should also be investigated.

Basic research into apple browning reveals that a reaction of phenols, enzymes and oxygen causes apples to brown. However, this process can be hindered by slowing the rate of enzyme activity. So as an example, I would decide to cover multiple pieces of apple with water and lemon juice and test which better slows the rate of apple browning.

(3) Develop a Hypothesis:
Based off the information you have found during your research, develop an appropriate hypothesis (an educated guess) on the outcome of your experiment. For example, my hypothesis for the hypothetical apple browning experiment would be: lemon juice will be most effective in slowing down the rate of apple browning.

(4) Conduct the Experiment:
The experiment should be conducted within controlled setting, with only one variable changed at a time to ensure validity, and repeal trials done for reliability. In the example, the only experimental (changed) variable would be the type of liquid applied to the cut apples, whilst all other controlled variables (size of apples, amount of liquid applied, room temperature, etc) are kept constant. A control should be used to provide a comparison to the norm, so an apple with no applied liquid would be the control in this experiment.

The experiment should be well documented, with the equipment and method listed, and all raw data should be recorded in a table.

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(5) Analyse Results:
The raw data should be graphed to establish trends and eliminate unreliable outliers in the results. The outcomes of the experiment should be discussed in relation to the theory behind the experiment. The results should also be examined in terms of validity, reliability and accuracy and notions put forward on their improvement.

For this hypothetical experiment, the lemon juice would most likely have the greatest effect in slowing the rate of apple browning, in comparison to water or nothing at all. This is because the acidity of the lemon juice would denature the enzymes in the apple, therefore slowing the browning process.

(6) State a Conclusion:
The conclusion should state the outcomes of the experiment and whether it agreed or disagreed with the established hypothesis. An adequate conclusion for the apple browning experiment example would be: The results of this experiment agreed with the hypothesis, and demonstrated that lemon juice was more effective than water in slowing the rate of browning of apples.

Following the steps to a scientific method when conducting the experiment eliminate doubts regarding its validity, and help structure the experiment in reaching a useful and relavant result. I hope this hub has been helpful. Below is a quick video that briefly examines the steps to a scientific method.

The Steps to a Scientific Method

Steps to a Scientific Method


The Pink Panther (author) from Sydney, Australia on July 22, 2011:

lol - thanks for the comment natural cures, it can be hard to remember to apply the scientific method all the time. I kind of wrote this as a reference so I wouldn't forget too!

natural cures gui from Australia on July 22, 2011:

What a cool hub! In applied science class I always got in trouble for coming up with the right answers but not showing properly how I arrived at it - lol!

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