Observation: The First Step in the Scientific Method
To observe means to look at something and to notice the details. When people observe things they often wonder why it is that way. Scientists try to answer that question. They make observations as the first step to the scientific method.
Observations are also called data. There are two kinds of data.
- Qualitative data which are descriptions that do not have numbers.
There was a black and red, hairy bug on the screen is an example of qualitative data.
- Quantitative data are obtained by making measurements and have numbers.
Scientists use instruments (tools) to obtain numbers based data.
At 1500 hours GMT Shamokin Dam, Pennsylvania. Observed a female Monarch Butterfly - weight - 500 mg, wing span of 100 mm. feeding on the milkweed blossoms. is an example of quantitative data.
It is important to be a careful observer. The smallest detail can be critical to finding the answer to a question.
Practice observing by looking at this photo. I photographed this plant in August.
How many details you can gather?
1. Write your observations - one per line - on a piece of paper.
Make as many observations as you can.
2. Imagine - If you were standing in the scene:
What tools (instruments) would help you to be a better observer?
What tools (instruments) might you use to measure what you are observing?
3. Write at least three questions that you have about what you have observed.
4. Form a hypothesis. (What is a hypothesis?)
“We don't know who discovered water, but we know it wasn't the fish.” Marshall McLuhan
Participate - Monarch Larval Monitoring Project | Milkweed and Monarch Butterfly Mania
About Units of Measurement - IB Biology | Observing Biology how to's
Temperature facts and figures - IB Biology
Steps of the Scientific Method - Science Buddies | Learn about the Scientific Method
Observation - Science Skills Builders
Bluebirds Project | Fields, Meadows and Fencerows EcoStudy Unit | Wetlands EcoStudy Unit
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Cynthia J. O'Hora Posted 2/2007 released to free use in a nonprofit setting.
with Pennsylvania Academic Standards | Rubric
Template at Bernie Dodge site
Save a tree - use a Digital Answer Format - Highlight the text. Copy it. Paste it in a word processing document. Save the document in your folder. Answer on the word processing document in an easily read, contrasting color (Not yellow ) or font. Avoid fancy fonts like: Symbols, Techno, fonts). Save frequently as you work. I have never liked losing my work. You will not like it either. Be sure to enter your name & the date at the top of the document. Submit via email attachment or class dropbox. Bad things happen: Save a copy of the response document for your records.
Proof your responses. It is funny how speling errors and typeos sneak in to the bets work. Make your own printer paper answer sheet
Pennsylvania Academic Standards - The Nature of Science
Processes, Procedures and Tools of Scientific Investigations
• Apply knowledge of scientific investigation or technological design in different contexts to make inferences to solve problems.
• Use evidence, observations, or a variety of scales (e.g., time, mass, distance, volume, temperature) to describe relationships.