Biology Laboratory Research Paper
I. The Scientific Method
Scientists see the world from a different perspective. Scientists observe the environment and the surroundings and ask questions. Once questions are formulated the next step for a scientist is to try and come up with answers. This method of inquiry and analysis is called the scientific method. As previously mentioned the scientific method starts by asking questions and then trying to find answers. "Scientists use the scientific method to construct an accurate representation of the world through the testing of scientific theories" (Environmental Protection Agency). The scientific method is "a systematic approach to the discovery of new information" (Denniston, Topping, and Caret 3). "The Scientific method is a body of techniques for investigating phenomena and acquiring new knowledge, as well as for correcting and integrating previous knowledge. It is based on gathering observable, empirical, measurable evidence, subject to the principles of reasoning" (Wikepia.org). This method is not formalized or standard among the different science branches but it serves as an organized approach to solve problems. Therefore, the scientific method is not a cookbook recipe but a guide whose steps could be done simultaneously or even in a different order. The scientific method has the following characteristics: observation of phenomena, formulation of a question, pattern recognition, developing theories, experimentation and summarizing information. The first two steps of the scientific method involve observation and description of a phenomenon or group of phenomena and then formulating a question. The description must be reliable, replicable and valid (Wikipedia.org). Scientists will try and find a cause and effect relationship and that will lead to the development of theories. Scientists observe the phenomenon and will try to explain it with a hypothesis. A hypothesis is "an attempt to explain an observation, or series of observations, in a commonsense way" (Denniston, Topping, and Caret 4). If the experiments the scientists conduct support the hypothesis then it becomes a theory. A theory is "a hypothesis supported by extensive testing (experimentation) that explains scientific facts and can predict new facts" ((Denniston, Topping, and Caret 4). One of the most important steps in a scientific method is conducting experiments. The target of the experiments is to test the correctness of the hypothesis that was formulated. The experiments have to be carried out very carefully, in a controlled environment, since they will support or disprove the hypothesis. When the experiments are conducted scientist must use quantitative controls which are based on values and figures, not emotions. Once the experiments have been completed and a conclusion has been drawn the last step is to summarize the information and share it with the scientific community (Denniston, Topping, and Caret 4-5). II. The Relationship of Scientific Theory and Scientific Law Scientific theory and scientific law are terms whose meanings are often misinterpreted by students. A scientific law is a "statement of fact meant to explain, in concise terms, an action or set of actions. It is generally accepted to be true and universal, and can sometimes be expressed in terms of a single mathematical equation" (Wilson). A scientific law encompasses a body of observations and at the time it is made no exceptions have been found to it. (Helmenstine) Examples of scientific laws are the law of gravity, the law of thermodynamics, and Hook's law of elasticity. A scientific theory is "an explanation of a set of related observations or events based upon proven hypotheses and verified multiple times by detached groups of researchers" (Wilson). In other words, if a scientist has gathered enough evidence that supports a hypothesis than that hypothesis becomes accepted as the explanation to the phenomenon. Even though theories are well...
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Denniston, Katherine J., Joseph J. Topping, and Robert L. Caret. General, Organic, and Biochemistry. New York: New York, 2007.
Environmental Protection Agency. What is the Scientific Method? 2006. 10 Jan. 2007.
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Rochester University. Introduction to the Scientific Method. 10 Jan. 2007.
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