Directions to Create an Experiment

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Whether you're preparing for a science fair or trying to solve a problem scientificially, it is important to understand how a science experiment works. The scientific method, used for most experiments, has several steps that you will need to follow carefully in order to make sure that your experiment is as accurate and accepted as possible. Leaving out one of the steps for creating an experiment can completely invalidate your results, leading to a bad grade, false conclusions, or a damaged reputation, depending on what is at stake.

Things You'll Need

  • Paper
  • Pencil or pen
  • Measuring tools (depending on the experiment)
  • Brainstorm a research question that you would like to answer. Possible research questions range from "Does candy really make your teeth turn yellow?" to "What type of dish soap works the best?" Write down the question that you decide to try to answer.

  • Research the question that you asked, making sure to consider as many aspects of the issue as possible. For example, you might research each of the ingredients in competing brands of dish soap in order to understand their properties. You also might call the companies that produce the soap and ask for additional information about how and why their soap works.

  • Think of a hypothesis, or educated guess, that you could make that would answer your question. For example, your hypothesis might be "Brand A will get stains off dishes better than Brand B." Make sure that your hypothesis is testable. In other words, your hypothesis should not be "Brand A is a better dish soap than Brand B."

  • Design an experiment to test your hypothesis. When doing this, make sure to include a control group. For example, rather than simply testing Brand A on one dish and Brand B on another dish, you should also test plain water on a third dish as your control.

  • Refine your experiment, making sure that you have only one independent variable. For example, if your independent variable (or the aspect of the situation that changes) is the type of dish soap used, you will want to make sure that the intensity of the stain, the amount of dish soap, the amount of water, and the vigorousness of the rubbing are all as identical as possible across the different parts of the experiment. This is perhaps the most difficult part of creating an experiment.

  • Try out the experiment, taking accurate data at each step of the process. Take pictures when necessary, and take measurements whenever possible.

  • Repeat your experiment several times under different conditions to make sure that its results are able to be replicated. For example, try the dish experiment on various types of stains, using different types of sponges, or with different people doing the washing.

  • Evaluate whether your hypothesis was correct or incorrect.

References

  • Photo Credit Thinkstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images
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