# On a fresh sheet of notebook paper_ respond to the - groovytoo.com

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```							      The Scientific Method
• What is the scientific method?
– An approach for determining
scientific rules and relationships
• Why do we need it?
– It’s more convenient than just hoping
you stumble over the rules and
relationships
The Scientific Method
•   Problem or question
•   Hypothesis
•   Design and conduct an experiment
•   Analyze results
•   Draw a conclusion

These steps form the basis for our lab
reports!
Step 1: The Question

• Ask the right question!
• Sometimes you need to make
observations to come up with a
question
Step 2: Hypothesis
• How are variables related?
• Needs to be testable
• Needs to be consistent with the
question
Step 3: Experiment
• Make sure the experiment addresses the
question and hypothesis
• Determine:
– Constants: what doesn’t change
– Independent variables: what you directly change
(in Physics, we use Time a lot)
– Dependent variables: what will change
automatically when you change something else–
what you observe
• Outline what you will do
• Do it!
Step 3: Experiment (Cont’d)
• Make sure you control everything you
can control
• Do many trials (at least 3)!
• Set up a table to accept your data
Data Tables
• Data tables are created when
you design the experiment
• Then filled in when you        Time for ball to drop (s)
perform the experiment
• When you see the data later,
you should be able to            Trial Light Heavy
immediately understand what            Ball  Ball
the data meant
• Key aspects:                     1     0.54   0.40
–   Title (with DV)
–   Units                       2     0.32   0.51
–   IV                          3     0.44   0.41
–   Trials
–   Averages                    Ave   0.43   0.44
Data Tables
Light Ball              Heavy Ball
• Lots of different ways    Trial   Time of         Trial    Time of
flight (s)               flight (s)
to make tables            1                       1
• Easiest solution (but     2                       2
not very elegant) is to   3                       3
make lots of small        Ave                     Ave
tables
Time of flight (s)
• More efficient is to              Trial   Light   Heavy
combine tables                            Ball    Ball
1
2
3
Ave
How to tell if your table is good
• If you looked at it 2 weeks
after the experiment, could
you immediately figure out    Time for ball to drop (s)
what the numbers meant?
Trial Light Heavy
• What was I measuring?                 Ball  Ball
• What units did I use?
• What’s different between        1     0.54   0.40
this number and the one         2     0.32   0.51
next to it?
3     0.44   0.41
Ave   0.43   0.44
Step 4: Analyze Results
• What happened?
• Draw graphs (if necessary) to
determine relationships
• Do whatever you need to do to
draw a conclusion
Step 5: Conclusion
• What did you learn about the
hypothesis from the experiment?
• If it didn’t directly confirm (or
refute) the hypothesis, what else
needs to be done?
• What did we learn?
• What would you do differently next
time?
Keys to Success
• Consistency
– Make sure the experiment and
conclusion directly address the
hypothesis and the problem
• Understanding
– At the end, you need to clearly state
what was learned
– So be sure you learn something!

```
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