- Define the Problem
a. Be sure the topic is very specific and narrow it down if necessary.
b. Title should clearly articulate the purpose of the investigation.
a. Find information related to the subject of the investigation.
b. Should provide you with information related to “known” conditions, affects, or other variables that might influence the outcome of an experiment.
a. Must be based on fact, not opinion and address the proposed outcome of the investigation.
b. Formal hypotheses are written in a format which clearly defines the independent and dependent variables. (The effect of IV on the DV)
- Design and Conduct an Experiment
a. Experimental design must take into account all factors that will have an effect on the outcomes.
b. Many trials must be conducted to produce statistically sound data.
c. All experiments must contain at least on control group (standard set up) and one variable group (contains the independent variable).
- Record and Analyze Data
a. Data must be recorded in “real time”, don’t wait thinking you will remember.
b. Record all observations, no matter how trivial they may seem at the time. It could help you understand what happened!
a. Data is limited by the precision of the instrument used to gather it.
b. To analyze your data, you are looking for trends or patterns that exist between the independent/dependent variables and the control group outcomes.
c. If conflicting results (different outcomes) occur between trials it is a good indicator that your experimental design is not taking into account all factors that could affect it and must be redesigned.
- Conclude and Communicate
a. Base your conclusions on the facts only! Don’t make statements like: “I think, I feel”.
b. Once you’ve come to a conclusion communicate it clearly making connections between the data and observations of both the independent and dependent variables.
c. Graphs and Charts are an excellent way to quickly and accurately convey information. Typically, the dependent variable in plotted on the x-axis and the independent variable on the y-axis. Common dependent variable include: Time, Temp., Speed