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The Scientific Method
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Research Question:   The research question is the single most important part of the scientific method.  Every part of your project is done to answer this question.

Hypothesis:   The hypothesis is an educated guess, formed as a statement, that you propose to be the answer to the research question.

Experimental Design:  Plan an experiment in which you can test your hypothesis. 

  Variables:  The experiment will contain elements that do not change (called controlled variables) and elements that will change (called manipulated variables). 

  Control:  The control is a particular sample that is treated the same as all the rest of the samples except that it is not exposed to manipulated variables.

  Observation:  When you interact with your experiment, you are using your senses to observe.

  Journal:  All scientists keep a record of their data in some form of a journal.  The journal will begin with the date and time the experimenter collects the data.  Then the data entry is made.  Entries must be written clearly and with detail of description so that another scientist can read the journal, simulate the conditions of the experiment, and repeat the experiment.

  Collect Data:  As you observe your experiment, you will need to record the progress of your experiment. Data can be whatever you observe that you expect to change.  It can be pH, temperature, a measurement of growth, color, amount, etc.

  Charts & Graphs:  When at all possible, illustrations of data are advisable. They create a professional appearance and convey a great deal of information.

 Materials:  List all supplies and equipment.

 Procedure:  The procedure is a somewhat detailed, step - by - step description of how you conducted your experiment.

 Results:  The results is a statement, or interpretation, of the data.

 Conclusion:  The conclusion is a summary of the research and the results of the experiment.  You state here if your data supported your hypothesis or not.  You may have data that supported part of your hypothesis and not another part.  You may also have data that did not support your hypothesis. In this case, you may explain why the results were different.

 Application:  The application is how the information gained in the experiment can be used.  It is not often included in science fair projects.

 Resources:  One of the most important things for a student to do is recognize the people and resources used in developing and conducting the project.   Name the people who offered knowledge or helped and list the web sites, retail stores, magazines, books, computer programs, etc.

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