The best way to teach children how to study the world around them is by teaching them the scientific method for kids. Whether the student is seeking answers to something that arouses his curiosity or is working on a school project, there is a flow to science that he should use when approaching the topic. The scientific method is what even professional scientists and professors use in labs. Although there are many different ideas on what makes up the steps to the scientific method, there are a few common steps that should help your budding scientist complete his experiment in a timely and proficient manner.
Scientific Method for Kids
There are some basic steps to the scientific method. An adult using the scientific method will get much more detailed with the analysis and experiments, but children should focus on the basics of the method. The basic elements of the scientific method for kids break down like this:
Ask a Question or Identify a Problem
Every scientific study should first start with the child asking a question. The child might ask, "Why are some dogs barks louder than others?" This is the beginning, and seeking the answer makes up the rest of the scientific method. The question can be about any topic that interests the child. In fact, many educators and home schoolers believe the Charlotte Mason and Montessori methods of education work better than any other. These methods simply say that the student should be allowed to explore topics that interest him, because much more learning will take place. The scientific method for children is the perfect learning environment for this learning style because the student can apply it to any topic. The topic can be about anything from astronomy, to zoology, to neuroscience.
Forming a Hypothesis
The hypothesis takes the question a step further. The child looks at the question and thinks about the facts he already knows about the world around him. He then comes up with one or more statements that he will try to prove. For example, he might say, "Some dogs have a louder bark than others because of the frequency of their barks. This frequency is affected by the length of the dog's vocal cords." Whatever the topic of study, the student may have to do a bit of research before coming up with a hypothesis or at least have a basic understanding of how the world around him works. Younger children will need help forming a hypothesis, and it should be kept simple.
Now, you can probably see that the student has some concrete statements to work with and can begin to prove or disprove these statements through research and study.
Perform Experiments and Make Observations
In this next step, the student begins researching information on dogs and their vocal chords or whatever hypothesis he is trying to prove. He might speak to one or more experts on this topic. He would then measure the frequency of the sound of the different barks.
Organize the Data
Once the experiments are completed, the student should organize the results of those experiments. Graph paper to create charts can be a great visual aid to the student in analyzing the results of experiments. The student should then compare the results with the hypothesis. If the results do not prove the hypothesis, the student should go back and either perform new experiments or perhaps even a new hypothesis and new experiments.
As a final step, the student should draw conclusions of the experiments and present his findings in some form of report, either oral or written. If the experiments did not prove the hypothesis, then the student needs to be able to explain how the hypothesis changed and why, as well as describing in detail any failed experiments and what he learned from those failures.