Scientific Method – Middle School

The scientific method middle school students must familiarize themselves with is the cornerstone to developing the logical problem-solving mindset that society demands of every individual. Familiarizing yourself with the scientific method middle school students must learn is an essential part of life in the society of the Information Age. The method is consisted of seven steps. While some scientists might choose to add steps to the method or loops within it, a middle school student is only expected to know the seven steps.

Step 1 – Identify a problem.

Whether you are looking to find a cure for cancer or to answer the question of whether bacteria grows on soap, you must identify the problem. If you were finding a cure for cancer, the problem would be the mutations within people that cause cancer to happen.

Step 2 – Create a hypothesis.

Do a background check on the subject matter relevant to the problem proposed in the previous step and guess at the conclusion to your problem. Try not to make any wild guesses, as that is not the purpose of the assignment. Seek to prove something or to disprove something, but always base it on researched information. Make a logical guess.

Step 3 – Design an experiment.

When using the scientific method, middle school students are not expected to design a completely original experiment. Research online and find out if there are any proposed or conducted experiments regarding your subject matter. If you are trying to cure cancer, perhaps you will have to do extensive research, and as a middle school student, you will probably not be able to conduct the experiment. Make sure you have an independent variable – something that doesn’t change in the experiment as well as a dependent variable – something that changes to produce varied results to observe and make a conclusion off of. For example, if you are experimenting on bacterial growth on soap, the dependent variable would be the amount of bacteria you end up with on each bar of soap, and the independent variable is the brand of soap.

Step 4 – Conduct the experiment.

Carry out the plan devised in step 3. Be aware of safety procedures if using dangerous materials. Also, if you come into contact with bio-hazardous material, make sure to wash your hands carefully.

Step 5 – Make observations.

Collect the data resulting from the experiment throughout the experiment. Has the dependent variable changed when you changed the independent variable? Make note of this throughout the experiment.

Step 6 – Graph your data. Graph out your data.

A simple T-chart is the bare minimum that you will have to do. Put the dependent variable on the right side of the chart and the independent variable on the left side of the chart.

Step 7 – Conclude.

Draw a conclusion out of the data that you have graphed. Can you find any notable patterns? Take the soap experiment as an example. Does certain brands with certain ingredients in their soap recipe allow for more bacterial growth on the soap? Do certain brands of soap completely exterminate the bacteria? Write down your conclusion as the solution to your problem in step 1.

With these 7 steps of the scientific method, middle school students should not have any trouble conducting experiments on their own.