UCSB Science Line
Sponge Spicules Nerve Cells Galaxy Abalone Shell Nickel Succinate X-ray Lens Lupine
UCSB Science Line
Home
How it Works
Ask a Question
Search Topics
Webcasts
Our Scientists
Science Links
Contact Information
How does Science work?
Answer 1:

This is an important question to ask! I think everyone should learn how science works. First, let's go over why we do science.

Science is about finding out more about how the world works. There is so much to find out that the best way to do this is to pool our knowledge. The more you know, the farther you can find out new things!

When someone finds out something new, they write it down (usually in a science journal) so that everyone else can learn it too. Here's the hard part: what if that person made a mistake? We want to know if what they wrote is actually how the world works.

Scientists came up with a way to prevent a lot of mistakes. It's called the scientific method, and any science that anyone does uses it. Here's how it works.

Let's say you're finding out something new about how the world works. You start by making a hypothesis, a guess about what you will find. Then you test your hypothesis, usually by running an experiment. Sometimes, the result of your experiment will agree with your hypothesis. Other times, the result of your experiment will give you a reason to pick a different, better hypothesis and you start over. Either way, eventually you will get a result that agrees with your newest hypothesis. Now, when you write down what you found out, you can confidently tell everyone why you think your hypothesis is correct.

If you did a good job, other scientists will add your discovery to their pool of knowledge. They might even tell other people about it, so that everyone can find out what you did!


Answer 2:

Science is a method of learning about nature that consists of looking at reality, coming up with ideas of how reality works, figuring out what you would see but haven't yet if your idea were true, and then testing your idea by seeing if what you thought you would see does happen. The answer that you get then becomes the starting point for the next step, and it continues in a cycle.

People educated in Greek have come up with long names for this process, but it's pretty simple. The long names and their meanings are these:

Observation - something you notice about nature
Hypothesis - your idea on how nature works that you came up with based on what you saw
Prediction - what you think you should see, if your idea (hypothesis) is right
Experiment - the test you do to find out if you see what you thought you would

The cycle as it is normally drawn goes:

Observation -> Hypothesis -> Prediction -> Experiment -> new Observation -> New Hypothesis -> (and so on)


Answer 3:

I think people need to know more about how science works. Then maybe they will be better at thinking about things, and they won't believe so many things that are silly. But I can't think of any examples of the silly things now.

Science works in different ways. One way is called the Scientific Method. We all use the Scientific Method sometimes. For example, you want to know if you need to wear a jacket to school, or if it's warm enough to go without a jacket. That would be your Question. You could go outside and see how cold it is, or you could look at a thermometer outside your window. Those would be your Experiments. With the Results from your experiments, you could decide whether or not to wear a jacket.

So the Scientific Method is like this:

1. Ask a Question
2. Make a Hypothesis - that's a Guess about the answer to your question.
3. Plan some Experiments to test your Hypothesis and do the Experiments.
4. Look at the Results of your Experiments and see if they agree with your Hypothesis - your Guess.
5. Make some Conclusions about how good your Guess is and decide if you know the answer to your Question or if you need a new Guess and new Experiments.

Sometimes scientists find something interesting and then they try to understand it. Once I had a student whose Guess about her Question was wrong, but she said, "There's something I don't understand here," and she asked a new Question and made a new Guess - a new Hypothesis - and got new Results and discovered something interesting about how microbes change shape when they don't have enough food!

Once I had an interesting idea when I wasn't even thinking about science - I was looking at the mineral mica, and I thought it would be a good place for the first living things to come from. I've been working on that idea for almost 9 yrs now! That's an example of having a Hypothesis - a Guess - before I even asked a question.


Answer 4:

Science is just a way to find out how things work, and whether things are true. We do this by coming up with an idea of how we think something works (we call this a hypothesis), and a test to see whether our idea is correct (we call this an experiment). Any good hypothesis must be able to be tested, and must be able to be proven false, because otherwise how would you know whether or not it's true?

Another important part about science is that it can be checked and tried by anyone else. Whenever scientists report their hypotheses and experiments to each other, they describe the entire experiment. This is so that if there's something really controversial, other scientists can perform the same experiment to see whether they get the same results. If multiple people can't get the same result, it's usually a sign that something more complicated is happening, and it needs more study.



Click Here to return to the search form.

University of California, Santa Barbara Materials Research Laboratory National Science Foundation
This program is co-sponsored by the National Science Foundation and UCSB School-University Partnerships
Copyright © 2015 The Regents of the University of California,
All Rights Reserved.
UCSB Terms of Use