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Scientific Process

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Seeing is Believing
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Seeing is Believing

Credit: NASA
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Rio_tinto_river_CarolStoker_NASA_Ames_Research_Center.jpg
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.

    Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
    Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/nasa_goddard/9319630435
    License: CC BY-NC 3.0

    In order to prove their hypotheses, a scientist must perform experiments [Figure2]

  • 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]^ Credit: NASA; Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Rio_tinto_river_CarolStoker_NASA_Ames_Research_Center.jpg; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center; Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/nasa_goddard/9319630435; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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