|Osmosis and Diffusion|
This is part three in a series about how to make a successful science fair project. In part one, we talked about picking your topic. In part two, we talked about how to narrow down your topic and develop an hypothesis. This week we will talk about how to develop an experiment to test your hypothesis. First we need to look at the scientific method a bit. The scientific method is a way to ask and answer scientific questions by making observations and doing experiments.The steps we have already done are really the first three parts of the scientific method.
- Ask a Question
- Do Background Research
- Construct a Hypothesis
- Test Your Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment
- Analyze Your Data and Draw a Conclusion
- Communicate Your Results
- It must first be do-able. You have to work with safe materials and it must be something you can actually accomplish. You might have to help your student with this, and to suggest alternatives.
|The Fragility of an Enzyme|
|How Does Smell Affect Taste?|
- A Fair Test. It is important for your student's experiment to be a fair test. Your student must change only one factor, called a variable, and keep all other conditions the same. Your student must have a control, which is something that is not affected by what you are doing in the experiment.
|Seeing the Effect of Changing Temperature|
- Keep really good records. Remember that notebook I told your student to keep. It has his research in it. Now your student can include all your observations from his experiment. Other people must be able to set up a test in the same way that your student did and get the same result. It's important, therefore, for your student to keep accurate records of everything he does in his test, and it's essential that he keeps all your data.
- Take Your Time. Remember, your student may not be able to figure out whether his hypothesis is confirmed without first spending considerable time looking at the data he has gathered in his experimenting.
- Failure? His data may fail to confirm the hypothesis he set out. That is okay. It happens to scientists all the time and your student can learn just as much from the experiment whether or not it supported his hypothesis. Don't let your student consider it a failure.
- Unknown Variables. Whether the data confirms or fails to confirm the hypothesis, your student must always be on the lookout for variables that he did not intend to have that may have influenced the results.
Now that you have done your experiment, next week we will talk about how to take the data you have collected to make a fantastic science fair display.