The Scientific Method allows an individual to test a hypothesis to determine how accurate his or her theory might be. Observation, questioning, forming a hypothesis, testing, and arriving at a scientific explanation are essential to the effectiveness of the Scientific Method. The following paragraphs examine how I used the Scientific Method to support my hypothesis concerning plants and how they respond to sunlight and the darkness.
Method 1: Observation
Pruitt & Underwood (2006) explains, “All science begins with observation.” “Often, observations involve a new way of looking at things, or the astute realization that the natural world is at odds with ideas that are currently accepted.” (p. 12). I will observe two cabbage plants; both plants will be placed in different areas within a small cottage. Cabbage number one will be placed on a window seal and the other cabbage plant will be placed in a flowering pot in a dark area of the cottage. I will observe how each plant grows while exposed to light and the darkness.
Method 2: Asking Questions
Certain aspects of my observation allowed me to consider how each plant will respond to its atmosphere. Were certain stages of each plant’s growth hindered? If so, what caused these changes to occur? Did both plants receive the right amount of nutrients to sustain life? Asking questions is essential to the development of my hypothesis about plants and how they respond to sunlight and the darkness. Pruitt & Underwood (2006) informs, “Biologists use their observations and experience to ask how something happens, or why something appears or acts as it does.” (p. 13).
Method 3: Forming a Hypothesis
When conducting an experiment, one tries to arrive at a definite answer as to why something occurs. My proposed theory is that plants respond to light. Plants gain the nutrients they need from the sunlight; they feed on the sun’s energy for each stage of maturity. In order to support my theory, I must consider testing the subjects of my assignment. Pruitt & Underwood (2006) informs, “Systematic observations, controlled experiments, and detailed studies are all ways of testing the validity of scientific hypothesis.” (p. 14).
Method 4: Testing your Hypothesis
Over a series of weeks, I will monitor both plants to note their maturity. The plants will be watered as needed and both will receive equal amounts of fertilizer. I will also note the size of both plants as they develop and how each plant responds to its surrounding.
Method 5: Explanation
Plants that respond to light are linked to the term called phototropism; phototropism refers to a plant’s movement towards the sunlight. Thus, I will support my hypothesis by developing an explanation as to what I have discovered during the experimentation of both cabbage plants.
Personal Experience Using the Scientific Method
A real-life situation that I have used involving the Scientific Method is outlined as follows: When I was about 20 years old, I noticed how my body would react to certain foods that I consumed. Eating certain things would cause me to itch and cause my body to swell in various places. Since I could not pinpoint exactly what was triggering these episodes, I decided to observe what I ate on a daily basis. My body’s response to certain foods raised a question; what was causing me to experience the itching and swelling spurts? Questioning allowed me to develop a hypothesis about my interaction with different kinds of foods; I must be allergic to some of the foods that I was eating. I tested my hypothesis by visiting an allergy specialist. The specialist conducted several tests by using extractions from various foods and green grasses. The doctor poked 50 holes in my back and squeezed a small droplet of each extraction in the holes; if the hole appeared irritated or whelped, that particular food or grass was the subjects causing harm to my body.
This particular method supported my hypothesis regarding my physical reaction to certain foods. The final stage in the Scientific Method is finding an explanation. I discovered that I was allergic to peanuts, bananas, chicken, shrimp, and tons of other foods; I had to rearrange my eating habits so that I would not become sick again.
The Scientific Method is a useful tool when conducting experiments to support a given hypothesis. The key to backing up a hypothesis is to follow each step of the process carefully and to have an open mind about what it is you have discovered. Experimenting allows us to embark on journeys that can cause miraculous changes within our environment..
Pruitt, N. L., & Underwood, L. S. (2006). Bioinquiry: Making Connections in
Biology (3rd edition), pp. 12-14, Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.