A mention of science education or STEM will almost always bring up a mention of the scientific method. But what is the scientific method and how do we incorporate it into our homeschools? In this podcast, Paige from Elemental Science is going to help you figure out your answer to this common question!
Welcome to season 5 of the Tips for Homeschool Science Show where we are breaking down the lofty ideals of teaching science into building blocks you can use in your homeschool.
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A mention of science education or STEM will almost always bring up a mention of the scientific method. But what is the scientific method and how do we incorporate it into our homeschools?
This is exactly what we are going to chat about in today’s episode.
Using the scientific method regularly will teach the student to look at all the evidence before making a statement of fact, which makes it a significant part of science education. So, it’s important that we understand what it is and how to use it in our homeschools.
Let’s dig in…
What is the scientific method?
In a nutshell, the scientific method teaches the brain to logically examine and process all the information it receives. It requires that one observes and tests before making a statement of fact.
It is also the main method scientists use when asking and answering questions. A scientist follows the same steps each time he employs the scientific method.
These are to:
- Ask a question
- Do some research
- Formulate a hypothesis
- Test with experimentation
- Record and analyze observations and results
- Draw a conclusion
I have shared in the past about these steps in details and there will be a link in the show notes to this article.
Why is the scientific method important?
The scientific method is important for the homeschooler to teach because it is a fundamental process in science, but the benefits of teaching your students this process will go beyond their science class.
Not only is the scientific method important in science, but it is also a technique that trains the student how to answer a question in a logical manner. This method teaches the student to analyze and process the information he or she is receiving.
In short, the scientific method trains the brain to logically examine and process all the information it receives.
How can we incorporate the scientific method into our homeschools?
Our students need exposure to the scientific method over and over until it becomes a natural habit. It will take years for a student to fully etch this process into his mind.
So, the basics of the scientific method are something that you need to introduce from the very start. That said, teaching this process will look different for the various age groups.
How do we as homeschoolers provide these opportunities for our students?
During the preschool and elementary years
In the early years, our students can be introduced to the principles of the scientific method through representation. We can do this by:
- Emphasizing curiosity and observation across the subject lines which allows the students to become familiar with step one;
- Modeling steps four through six to our students during regular scientific demonstrations.
By allowing these students to learn science through observation-based methods, we are representing different portions of the scientific method. This serves to build the skills they will need in the coming years.
During the middle school years
Middle school students can interact with the principles of the scientific method through hands-on, inquiry-based experiences. During these years we can:
- Begin to allow these students to perform their own experiments, under our guidance;
- Offer them a chance to use the scientific method from start to finish through the science fair project.
The key is to allow middle school students to have real-life, hands-on, inquiry-based interaction with the scientific method in a controlled environment. By giving them these opportunities, we are creating a pathway for etching this process into their minds.
During the high school years
High school students can gain competency with the principles of the scientific method through repeated application. At this point we need to:
- Offer them the freedom to manage their own experiments and draw their own conclusions;
- Continue to lead them through the process of answering their own scientific questions.
These students are learning how to be in the driver’s seat of their educational journey. We can provide them with the source of the information they need, while still permitting them the freedom to uncover what they need to know.
In other words, we can mentor high school students as they learn to follow the steps of the scientific method on their own.
Wrapping it up
When you teach your students to use the scientific method, it will train their brains to answer the questions they have in a logical manner.
Allowing our students to interact with the steps of the scientific method through representations, hands-on experiences, and repeated applications during the course of their educational journey will serve to firmly etch this foundational concept into their minds.
If this all sounds intimidating, it’s not. Remember, you are simply teaching your students to take the time to discover the answer to a given problem by using the knowledge they have as well as the things they observe and measure during an experiment.
So, I trust that by now you understand a bit more about the scientific method and how to incorporate this process into your homeschool. Here are a few helpful links about the scientific method:
Well, that’s a wrap! Next week we’ll share a post on the Elemental Science blog with the questions from this season, plus 6 more answers to help you teach science at home. We have some interesting plans for season 6, which will begin in February, but until then we’ll continue to share our monthly tips. I hope you have a great week playing with science!