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Science Process Skills
Experimenting for Answers



Experimenting for Answers
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 5 to 7
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   8.99

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    inference, operational, unanswered, variable, hypothesis, faulty, helping, various, based, design, education, scientist, focus, possibly, affects, equipment


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Experimenting for Answers
By Trista L. Pollard
  

1     There are many questions in life. Some are answered after little research; however, some go unanswered for many years, possibly forever. The way scientists search for the answers to their questions is through the science process skill called experimenting.
 
2     When you experiment in your science class, you may think you are just "doing something to see what happens." However, to true scientists, when you experiment you change objects or events to learn how nature changes them. Experimenting is one of the most important process skills because it also includes the other six process skills: observing, classifying, communicating, inferring, predicting, and measuring. During an experiment scientists state a hypothesis (a possible answer to the question) and design procedures with controlled variables to test their hypothesis.
 
3     When scientists ask questions, they make inferences that they want to test. This is called stating an operational question or scientific question. For example, you are helping your favorite physical education teacher clean out her equipment closet. As you are herding the various types of balls into their labeled bins, you observe one ball roll from the top shelf to the floor and bounce very high after it hits the floor. You began to wonder, "Does height at which the ball is dropped affect how high it will bounce?" You have just asked an operational question based on your observations. Operational questions help scientists to focus on the specific action they want to take to produce a result. In this case you want to determine if the ball's drop height will affect the ball's bounce height.

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