Unit 9: Science Meets Real Life

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Kaplan University
SC300: Big Ideas in Science: From Methods to Mutation
Part 1:
The scientific method involves using several steps in order to reach a conclusion about a particular inquiry. The steps are basically an investigation process. The method is an ongoing cycle that should be applied with intelligence and creativity. Some of the steps can occur at the same time, in a different order or even repeated during the experiment in order to improve the conclusion. (about.com. 2011)

Typically the scientific method involves the following steps: Ask a question: A question needs to be specific in order to provide direct focus to the inquiry (about.com. 2011). Research the topic: Research needs to be detailed in order to learn as much as possible to help with your question (about.com. 2011.) Formulate a hypothesis: A hypothesis is a statement regarding the cause and effect of the situation surrounding your question (about.com. 2011.) Test the hypothesis: Testing involves the planning and carrying out of a procedure or set of procedures to gather data (about.com. 2011).

Whether we know it or not the scientific method is being used in everything we do. For instance, I arrive at home after dark. After opening the door, I reach for the light switch. When I flip the switch to turn the light on nothing happens. Here is where I am going to start applying the scientific method. Why is the light out?

My research is going to start with me looking at the switch to see if I was flipping the correct one. There are a lot of homes where the wall plate has multiple switches. Having multiple switches is an indicator that the electricity is being directed to different places within the home. In my home, I have a multiple wall plate that has a switch to my outside security light, my kitchen and my dining room. Perhaps the light didn’t come on because it was as simple as using the wrong switch. Another point of research is to check the light bulb itself. Maybe the light bulb itself is burnt out. A third research idea would be to check the breaker box. If there is a blown fuse, then this is going to cause an entire section of the house to lose power. Finally, the electricity wires themselves could be faulty or a mouse chewed on them. Since I know nothing about electricity wires I would need to call an electrician for further analysis.

My next step of the scientific method is creating my hypothesis. This is sometimes the most difficult part of the process. It involves developing a specific and testable statement in order to make something known about your unknown question. For instance, if the light bulb is burnt out then replacing it with a new one would allow the light to turn on when the switch is flipped. (about.com. 2011)

Most light bulbs are known as incandescent bulbs which mean that the light that is produced is created by heat. The blub works by passing an electric current through a filament made of the metal tungsten. A light bulb will burn out due to repetitive stress of the filament. That stress it the constant flipping of the switch to turn the light on and off. (ehow.com. 2011)

Testing the hypothesis is possibly the most fun and frustrating. Since I am short I need to locate a chair and use that to stand on. This is going to get me closer to the light bulb. Most likely, I am going to need to take the light cover off and unscrew the light bulb. Once I have the light bulb in my hand I can shake it to test if the bulb is truly burnt out. When I shake the light bulb I should hear a ringing sound. The sound is made because the fragments of the snapped filament are now loose inside the bulb. (ehow.com. 2011)

Another way I am using the scientific method is when I use the remote from my vehicles key chain to automatically unlock the door. When I get to the car I realize that the door is still locked. What happened? Was I too far away from the car when I hit the button that...
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