The very essence of science is that it necessitates the use of creative and critical thinking skills while students investigate the assumptions and the facts supporting their inquiries. Through using the basic six steps of the scientific method to explore and discover new products and ideas, elementary students learn to form questions, research, pose hypotheses, gather and analyze information to draw conclusions from their data, and present their research.

Ask a Question

A girl observes the leaves on a green plant.
A girl observes the leaves on a green plant.

The scientific method begins with asking questions about observations students make. They look for ordinary things to examine in new ways and with new meanings. After posing several questions, encourage the students to decide which question puzzles them the most and to select that question for scientific investigation.

Research

A school boy looks at documents in a binder.
A school boy looks at documents in a binder.

After establishing what they want to investigate, students research from books, the Internet and interviews of specialists to gather as much information as possible. They then record the research, as it is important to validate the credibility of the information, which directs the path to forming hypotheses.

Hypothesis

A girl at school holds up a test tube filled with liquid.
A girl at school holds up a test tube filled with liquid.

After gathering information through research, each student follows the scientific method by stating a hypothesis. This educated guess is usually stated as "If I ....(do this) then ...(this) will happen." A hypothesis is stated in such a manner that the results can be measured, and it refers back to the original question.

Experiment

Two children conduct a test in a science lab.
Two children conduct a test in a science lab.

The next step is to test the hypothesis with an experiment. The purpose of the experiment is to discover if the hypothesis is true or false. Experiments must have an independent variable, a dependent variable, and a control. The independent variable is the part of the experiment that changes in the experiment, while the dependent variable occurs in response to the changes in the independent variable. The control is the part of the experiment where there is no independent variable and allows for a comparison for the results in the experiment.

Analysis and Conclusion

A girl looks at a test tube through a magnifying glass.
A girl looks at a test tube through a magnifying glass.

Next, analyze the information or data obtained from the experiments to conclude whether the hypothesis proved to be true or false. If the results indicate the hypothesis is false, then research for additional information, form a different hypothesis, and follow through with the scientific method again. Even if the original hypothesis proves correct, repeat the experiment to confirm the results.

Communication of the Results

A girl holds a stop watch and writes on a piece of paper.
A girl holds a stop watch and writes on a piece of paper.

Like scientists, students need to communicate the results of their experiments. During this step, students present their discoveries through class reports and demonstrations and in science fair displays and competitions. Journals of the research completed before the experiment, as well as logs of the procedures and conclusions, highlight the students' knowledge of their investigations and of the scientific method.