Solve Problems Like A Scientist
Scientists solve problems in much the same way that you do – through making observations, asking questions, taking a guess, and experimenting so that eventually they might come to a conclusion that can be shared with others.
Suppose that the pen you are writing with stops working. You might ask yourself “why” just before giving it a shake or rubbing it vigorously several times across the paper. Then you might take it apart to examine the inner workings to try and determine the cause. Without realizing it you are solving your problem using what is called the “scientific method.”
Every problem is different and needs to be solved in different ways but there are some basic steps that you can take, just as a scientist would, to try to figure out the answer to a problem.
First, identify and state the problem. It is important to know what you are looking for. Sometimes a scientist will state his problem as a question so that he can then go about the tasks of finding an answer. The next step would be to gather all the information you can find about your problem. Scientists read research papers written by others. They ask questions to learn about what kind of work has already been done and where they might go to find more information. The library and Internet can be fabulous research tools during this step of the scientific method.
Once you have gathered a great deal of information about your problem, it’s time to make an educated guess about the solution. Scientists call this guess their “hypothesis.” A hypothesis suggests a solution to the problem.
Now it’s time to test your hypothesis by designing an experiment that will either prove or disprove an answer to the problem. During the experiment step you will want to make careful observations as you collect the data needed to support the hypothesis. Scientists keep very careful written records of the results and data from their experiments.
Once the experiment has been completed it will be time to present your results. Scientists have many different ways of organizing their information. Often they will use graphs, charts, tables and diagrams to organize their data. When organized, all this information can be carefully analyzed and studied.
At last you will be ready to state your conclusion. Your conclusion should include a summary that explains all of your data and states whether or not the data supports your hypothesis. It should answer the question stated in the problem you have worked to solve. Then next time you go about trying to find an answer to a question, see how many steps of the scientific method you can take and you will be solving your problems like the scientists do.
Coming for the 2004-05 School Year: Disappearing Wetlands!
Wetlands are unique ecosystems found throughout the world that provide habitat for an incredible diversity of plants and animals. They are nurseries for countless species of fish and shellfish that we depend on for food, protect vulnerable coastlines from hurricanes and storm surges, and help filter and purify the small amount of freshwater that is found on our planet. Wetlands are also threatened ecosystems. The mission of this year’s JASON Expedition is to better understand what wetlands are, why they are disappearing, and how to best manage these ecosystems in Louisiana, in your neighborhood, and around the world.
Join JASON on a REAL journey to wetlands with nationally renowned researchers from the Louisiana Bayou. Through hands-on activities and interaction with scientists learn about: Wetland Ecosystems, Impact of Environment on the Wetlands, Human Impact on Wetlands, Critical Life-Supporting Ecosystems in Your Neighborhood, River Systems, and Land Mass Creation from Rivers.
JASON Expedition is a supplemental, inquiry-based, science learning adventure for upper elementary, middle and junior high. JASON:
- Relates and connects real world science to students’ lives
- Meets state and national standards
- Correlates to major textbooks and science kits
- Conforms to a variety of learning and teaching styles
- Helps students understand science from a contextual perspective
- Improves student outcomes