Lab Reporting and the Scientific Method

Laura Zittlow, Reporter

Francis Bacon is the man credited with the creation of the scientific method. Prior to his time, people would only rationalize. The problem with that is people didn’t have a way to test the falseness of their conclusion. Meaning, no one had a way to see if their answer to a particular question was true or not. On a daily basis, many people don’t use the scientific method. It is primarily scientists who do. Every day teens use it slightly differently. We (teenagers) use it for lab reporting. According to Mr. Samuels, the scientific method is used for accurately going about a lab.

The first step is to observe what is happening when you do the initial experiment. Be sure to note the items in the experiment, the results and what happens during the initial experiment. The observations that you make will be used to help aid in the second step. Essentially what you are doing is gathering information to help develop a question.

The second step is to define a problem. Often we associate this as the first step however that is not the case. It is the second step because you can not ask a question without a set of information gathered about something. This step is very important because it lays the majority of the foundation for the rest of the steps. You should make that you can answer the question with the tools provided for you.

The third step is to come up with a hypothesis. A hypothesis is an educated guess based on the information gathered and background knowledge. When you come up with a hypothesis, you are going to most likely want it to be scientific. What makes a hypothesis scientific, is that it can be tested for possible wrongness. You will want to make sure the hypothesis you come up with answers the question. If it doesn’t, you will either want to rewrite your question or change your hypothesis to match the question.

The fourth step is to experiment. In this step, you create an experiment to answer the question you had come up with. You will be asked to state the procedure of your experiment along with identifying your independent and dependent variables as well as the control. The independent is the variable that you change. The dependent is the variable that you track how it responds to the independent. The control is variable that remains the same so the dependent is only affected by the independent. You will want to make sure that you list the control and not the constant. The constant is the variable that stays the same. Also, make sure that the experiment you chose will give you the results needed to answer the said question.

The last step is your conclusion. In your conclusion, you will state whether or not your hypothesis was right or wrong along with what the actual answer is. Just like the hypothesis, you will want to make sure that it answers the question you had asked. As stated above, if the wording doesn’t answer the question change the question, so the answer matches or change the answer, so the question matches.

When you go to review what you have written done, the first thing you should do is to make sure both the hypothesis and conclusion answer the question. Then make sure that you have all parts completed along with any questions asked regarding the lab. Most of the time you are not graded on the accuracy of your answer, but rather on the accuracy of the procedure used and the accuracy of the five steps. Lab reports are nothing to fear if you got the scientific method down.