The Unscientific Part of the Scientific Method

Depending on which science book you’re reading, there are either four, or five, or six steps to the scientific method. That doesn’t sound very scientific, does it?! Don’t worry, though. It’s all pretty much the same general idea, so we’ve taken the average, and are giving you five steps:experiment which follows the scientific method

1. Observation – Looking at something in the world. Watching things closely makes you curious about why or when or how something happens. That leads to the next step…

2. Question – Wondering about what you see in the world. The questions that come up during your observations are the second step of the scientific method.

3. Hypothesis – A guess at the answer to the question. An hypothesis is an “educated guess”. You take what you already know about the subject and use it to guess the answer to your question. You could be right. You could be wrong. It doesn’t matter, because you’re going to find out in the next step…

4. Experimentation – Testing your hypothesis. You come up with an experiment to find out the answer to your question. This is the trickiest part of the scientific method, because an experiment has to be designed with controls and variables in place. (Here’s an explanation of the strange vocabulary!)

5. Results – The answer to the question. When the experiment is complete, your question will be answered, and you’ll have your results!

It looks complicated, but it is really a simple process that we use every day to understand and solve problems in the world around us. Like this: Suppose you observe that your DS isn’t working. You’ll ask yourself the question “What’s wrong with my DS?!” Then you’ll come up with a couple of ideas, or hypotheses: “The battery could be dead, the game could be dirty, or maybe the baby dropped it into the toilet.” So you’ll check the battery, take out the game and blow out the dust, then check for signs of dried Cheerios and wet spots. These experiments will hopefully lead you to the result, and you’ll know why your DS wasn’t working.

Kayla Fay

PS All of our Middle School Science Projects follow the scientific method! Grab your copy today HERE and you can be finished with your project by this time tomorrow!

Hair Do: Our Science Project About Hair

Our house has turned into a laboratory of sorts; we’re getting the new Middle School Science Projects ready to roll. You can see some of the random things we’re using to the right.
kids science experiment mouse
Today we’re working on the science project about hair. In the experiment, we’re measuring the strength of hair after it’s been treated with various types of hair products. To do this, we had to find a way to hang strands of hair. The first attempt was to simply tie a knot. That was NOT easy, and after I tried for fifteen minutes, we ditched the idea. It was too frustrating for me – must less a middle schooler.

So then we thought about tape. First, I used medical tape, because it’s white and you can write on it. (It’s important to label your variables.) But the medical tape didn’t hold the hair; it just slipped out. Regular cellophane tape wasn’t successful either. But finally, we found a great solution. But you’ll have to get the middle school guide to find out!

Designing an experiment often involves experimenting with the experiment. It can take a long time to find out what works and what doesn’t. When you have a due date looming, you don’t have time on your side. But don’t worry. We’ll have all the kinks worked out of the hair project (pun intended!) when it is published. Our goal is to take the guesswork out for your family, so that you’ll have a step by step list for a science project that works!

Kayla Fay

PS Right now we’re kicking around titles for our science project about hair – “Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow”, “Splitting Hairs”, “Hair Conditioning”, and other less catchy attempts. Leave a comment below if you have any ideas!

Five Types of Science Projects

It it just me who thinks that science projects were easier in grade school? Back then, you could turn in a replica of a volcano, a coke bottle that spews, or just a science report on plants. In middle school, everthing changes. Middle School science teachers want creative ideas, specific project elements, in depth research, and detailed logs of the whole science fair process. They talk about stuff like independent variables and control groups.

Finding a middle school science project that lives up to our teachers expectations has always been a challenge for our family. We were required to do an experiment based, investigative project for the science fair. There are five types of science projects, but most internet sites and books had projects that were actually demonstrations or models. It’s very important that you read the directions from your teacher and/or the science fair, and make sure that the project your child chooses fits into the right category – especially in middle school.
Bald Egg Science Project
Here are the five types of projects.

1. Investigative projects – Most science fairs require students to submit an investigative science project. This type of project has an experiment that tests an hypothesis. The experiment will follow the scientific method, and may require a control group. (If you’re unfamiliar with this vocabulary, check out the free resource below!)

An example of an investigative project would be “How does salt affect the boiling point of water?” This can easily be tested by our experiment which adds different amounts of salt to water and recording the temperature at which it boils.

If you see the words experiment, scientific method, control and/or variable on the project instructions, you’ll probably need an investigative project. As mentioned before, they’re not easy to find. (Hint: We’ve got a whole pack of investigative projects at 24 Hour Science Projects…)

2. Demonstration projects – In this type of project a student demonstrate a scientific principle, and lots of time the teacher wants it presented in front of the class as an oral report. There is no true experiment performed, because there won’t be a control or different variables.

3. Research project – Basically this is a science report. Students research a topic, and write what they discovered. Any type of science topic can be used for a research project.

4. Models – For a model project, models are built to explain a scientific principle or structure.

5. Collections – In this type of project a collection of objects is displayed to give an overview of a topic. An example would be a rock collection or a display showing pictures of various animals in a specific family.

Every middle school science fair will have slightly different criteria for projects. As you search for a project, make sure it’s the type of project your school requires. If you need help, check out “The Non-Scientist Parent’s Guide to Science Fair Projects“, which has guides for all the different types of science projects – including the experiment based ones! There is a vocabulary list that gives simple definitions to those vocabulary words you learned in middle school, but promptly forgot.

Believe it or not, science projects are designed to help students learn about science. Figure out which type of project your school requires, and you’ll be one step closer to showing your child how much fun science can be!

Find all sorts of science projects with our excellent guides, including middle school science projects.