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Inquiry Skills

An introduction/review of important science process skills for middle school students.
by

Erin Lemke

on 9 September 2010

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Transcript of Inquiry Skills

The Tools
of a Scientist Observations Inferences Make Predictions and Hypotheses Ask Questions Conducting an Investigation Gathering Data Drawing Conclusions and Reflecting Thinking about next steps... Qualitative Quantitative An observation is a fact, not an opinion about something you have observed. An observation is something that is observable with the senses, not a made up detail. There are TWO types of observations... Something you can see, hear, touch taste or smell. An observation of the characteristics/traits of something. NO NUMBERS! Examples:
The flower has purple petals and a yellow center.
The leaves are wilted. Something you can measure or count. An observation that tells something about the quantity/amount of something. MUST HAVE A NUMBER! Examples:
There are five petals on the flower.
The plant is 12 cm. tall. help scientists to make... Using observations and prior knowledge to draw conclusions or offer an explanation about what you have observed. Example:
Observations -
The plant grew 1 cm.
in a week.
The leaves are shriveled
and brown. Inference -
I think that plant may not be getting enough water and too much sun. An inference may be correct or incorrect. Scientists use both their observations and their inferences to... If a scientist wants to test something they first have to ask a question to test/answer. Questions that scientists ask MUST be testable and measurable. Examples:
BAD Question - How is one battery better than the other.
GOOD Question - Which lasts longer, a brand name battery or a generic battery? Scientists make predictions and hypotheses to help drive and focus their investigation. It is important for a scientist to support their predictions. Example: I think that the wooden car will go farther than the metal car because the wooden car is lighter and smaller. A scientist must identify variables before they can conduct an investigation. A variable is a factor that can affect the outcome of an investigation. For example:
Question - What effect does acid rain
have on plant growth?
Variables - type of plant, soil conditions, acidity of water, temperature, sunlight, etc.
Independent Variable: a variable that you change/manipulate on purpose. Dependent Variable: a variable that responds to the independent variable (what is being measured). Controls: all variables that remain constant/controlled throughout the experiment. Example:
Question - What effect does acid rain have on plant growth?
Independent Variable - the acidity of the water Example:
Question - What effect does acid rain have on plant growth?
Dependent Variable - the growth of the plant Example:
Question - What effect does acid rain have on plant growth?
Controls - amount of light, temperature, type and amount of soil, amount of water Variables Materials and Procedures It is extremely important that a scientist records the materials and the specific procedures used for an investigation. A scientist wants to be able to repeat an investigation to confirm results. It is important for a scientist to organize their data as they collect it.
This will help them to graph and analyze the data and determine if their hypotheses were correct. One way that scienctists begin to analyze their data is to put it in a visual form, like a graph. After taking time to analyze the data a scientist will start to decide if the data supports their predictions/hypothesis. This is called drawing conclusions. Finding out that the data supports a hypothesis is just as valuable to a scientist as finding out it does not support it. Once an investigation is finished the research is not over. If a hypothesis is not supported by the data a scientist will likely repeat the investigation to make sure there were not mistakes. A scientist may also start asking a new question to investigate based upon the information they found out. A scientist may repeat an investigation hundreds of times! Once scientists know what question they want to test they... Analyzing Results Now it is time to test that hypothesis by... A scientist will also likely draw pictures and explain what they are observing during the test. This will also come in handy when it is time to analyze. And finally... Designing an Investigation There are three types of variables...
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