Teaching the Scientific Method: Observation

The Scientific Method is the driving force behind our advancement in science. It is the process through which we build upon our existing knowledge and push ourselves to discover new things. For thousands of years scientists have used the Scientific Method to better understand the world around them. This method has been the guiding hand that has led to hundreds of groundbreaking and life saving discoveries. To have a true understanding of science one must first master the Scientific Method.

The principles of the Scientific Method can be broken down into five distinct steps that can be applied to all scientific exploration: Observation, Questioning, Hypothesis, Experimentation, and Analysis of Results. In a series of blog posts we will go over each step and explain how you can use clips from the ClassHook library to illustrate these steps to your students. Let’s get started with Observation.

Ghostbusters (1984)

Before we start an experiment or make bold hypotheses we have to take in information. By observing our subject and how it interacts with the world we can get a better understanding of what it is. That is exactly what the ghostbusters are doing in this clip. They use their skills of observation to track the ghost and make claims about it’s behavior. 

A great question to ask your students is “What senses did the ghostbusters use to make observations about their subject?” Sight, smell, and touch helped them gather more information about the ghost. They even gathered some ectoplasm for later experiments.

Flubber

Here, we see Professor Brainard use his skills of observation to learn more about his new creation. Through a series of simple interactions, he quickly learns that the Flubber is moldable, foldable, ductile, and elastic. It can also shift between a liquid and a solid. Understanding the physical properties of your subject can give you vital information for future experiments.

Try asking your student to describe some of the physical properties of the objects around them. Is their desk ridgid? Is their eraser flexible? Is the room they are in hot or cold?

Without realizing it, we use all of our five senses every day to take in information about the world. That information helps us understand our surroundings and navigate through life. It’s important to remember that when making scientific evaluations to always record your observations. In a way, we regularly practice the observation step of the scientific method. Stay tuned for our future articles about the other steps of the Scientific Method:

At ClassHook, we have many other videos from movies and TV shows that exemplify the Scientific Method at work. Check out more of them here.

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