The Scientific Method
Conversations with Science

Daniel experimenting with frictionJoshua showing his siblings an experiment

The Scientific Method is very much at the core of most science thinking. It is a process where Scientists ask questions, do research which includes observing experiments, and think about the data they record. Often they have to ask more questions, do another experiment and think again before they can come to a conclusion, or answer. This is the Scientific Method.

To summarise - The Scientific Method is:
  1. Define a question (problem)
  2. Gather information
  3. Form a Hypothesis (a guess)
  4. Plan and carry out an experiment (to test your guess)
  5. Observe and record Data
  6. Refine/improve your experiment
  7. Observe and record Data
  8. Come to a conclusion

Though we don’t do a lot of formal science at our house, knowing this method for processing thought has helped me guide my children in science every day.

Over dinner one night we got to talking about the theory that music played to plants improves their growth and production. We wanted to know, if this was true, how that could happen.

Initially, we had to iron out a few vocab/word choices. The children kept referring to the plants “listening” or “hearing” music. We asked them if this was possible. It didn’t take long for the conversation to come around to the fact that plants don’t have ears to hear music; neither do they have souls to respond to music. So if the claim is true (and we don’t know if it is!), but if it is how does the music affect the plants?

Here we were, around the dinner table, guiding the children to think in terms of the Scientific Method. They weren’t actually doing the experiment but rather drawing from information they had previously collected but it was the thinking process that was important.

Initially, they had to think through their understanding of creation and its order. Are plants created like humans? Though a lot of children’s literature and entertainment has a strong flavour of personification, the truth is that they were created differently than mankind. This is important for our children to know.

The second part of our conversation was to think through what they knew about music and what they knew about plants. What would the effects of music be on the plants? Does it have a physical affect or an affect on the environment? Between us all we asked a lot of questions.

Since we were not actually experimenting we are really only at the hypothesis stage of the Scientific Method. I don’t believe the question posed to our family was significant or gripping enough to spur anyone on to create an experiment to test our guess but it was a very valuable discussion.

It is also a perfect example showing that we can discuss Science (God’s World and how it works) in everyday situations by asking pertinent questions and having the children think. When you come up with a situation that you feel warrants further investigation and inquiry – go for the full Scientific Method regardless of what age your children are.

girls dressed as crazy scientists

Just had to insert this photo of the girls dressed as
Professor Positive and Professor Negative!

Though my husband is a scientist (Vet Science) and he fully understands the Scientific method it has helped me (who is not very scientific!) to see this process in layman’s terms:
  • Ask a question
  • Guess a possible reason / answer
  • Prove it (try an experiment or two)
  • Come to a conclusion
Seeing these simple steps means I can ask my children to think about any number of things that happen in our every day. Why do you think that happened? How can you prove that? What do you think now? Once again asking questions rather than telling our children encourages a deeper level of learning.

Live life with your kids!

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