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Observation

We use our senses to gather evidence for scientific investigations, they're our most powerful tools.

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Seeing is Believing

Seeing is Believing

License: CC BY-NC 3.0

You’re hiking with friends when you come upon this stream. You can hardly believe your eyes. You’ve never seen orange water in a stream before. What’s going on?

 

Why It Matters

  • Have you ever made an observation like this that causes you to scratch your head and wonder “What’s going on?” If you have, then you were thinking like a scientist.
  • Making observations is crucial in science. Observations are the beginning of the scientific process. They lead to questions and to hypotheses that might answer them. More observations are then made to test the hypotheses.
  • Test your own powers of observation—and practice using observations in the scientific process—with this activity: http://www.mrsoshouse.com/pbl/observe/orangewater.htm

 

Can You Apply It?

At the links below, learn more about the role of observations in the scientific process. Then answer the following questions.

  1. Describe two roles of observations in the scientific process.
  2. What senses can we use to make observations?
  3. What instruments can we use to refine and extend our senses and make better observations?
  4. Can scientists’ observations directly tell them how things work?
  5. In the activity above, what hypothesis did you come up with? What observations (data) would you need to test it?

Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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