The Scientific Process

Steps in the Scientific Process By: Reading Rockets (2011)

 One way parents can help children become interested in science is by explaining the scientific process. The scientific process is the way scientists go about asking and answering scientific questions by making observations and doing experiments.

Step 1: Ask a question

For the first step, help your child form a question, hopefully one that can be answered! Good questions start with question words: How, What, When, Who, Which, Why, or Where? For example, which cup holds the most water? Which of these four objects do you think will float in water?

 Step 2: Do background research

For young kids, background research can include talking together about what they already know about the question they're asking. Maybe you have a book or have seen a show about the topic. The goal for this step is to engage your scientist in some thinking.

 Step 3: Construct a hypothesis

A hypothesis is nothing more than a good guess at an answer to the question from Step 1. Ask your child, "Do you think the red cup or the blue cup will hold more water?" "Do you think the nail will sink or float? Do you think the aluminum foil boat will sink or float?"

 Step 4: Test your hypothesis by doing an experiment

Here comes the part you and your child have been waiting for! Help your scientist carry out the experiment. Encourage your child to be a careful observer of everything that happens. Talk about the steps to the experiment. "First, let's fill up our pitcher with water. Then, slowly pour the water into the cup."

 Step 5: Analyze the data and draw a conclusion

This step is all about results. What happened in the experiment? Ask your child, "Did the foil sink or float?" "Which cup held the most water?" At this stage, help your child answer the question developed in Step 1.

 Step 6: Share your results

Encourage your child to talk with siblings and other caregivers about the experiment. Have him talk about the steps used to conduct the experiment and what he learned.

Science experiments can be quick and fun to do at home. Sharing the scientific process with your child will help him begin to think and plan as scientists do.