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What is a Science Experiment?

It might not be what you think it is!

 

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by Lani Yamafuji in homeschool, parents, teachers
What is a Science Experiment?

If you google “Science Fair Experiments” you can find nearly 9 million sites with experiments for you to try. And if you just search “Science Experiment” that number jumps to over 51 million websites!

What makes this website unique? I’m not going to give you directions on how to make something, like baking soda slime, because I don’t believe just making something is doing science. I believe science has to come from a true curiosity to figure something out, to learn something, to use your thinking. It’s a brain thing, not a hand thing.

Baking meatloaf is a fun thing to do, but I wouldn’t call it a science experiment (unless my sons were in charge of making it). Sure, you might learn how to use a thermometer, but that’s still not quite enough.

So, what is a science experiment to me?

The Experiment

Definition of experiment:

“a scientific test in which you perform a series of actions and carefully observe their effects in order to learn about something”

Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary

An experiment is a test

An experiment is a test. And tests start with questions. Questions that you don’t already know the answer to – otherwise that would be cheating 🙂

The Question

What are you trying to prove by doing this experiment? That is your question.

Q: Are butterflies more attracted to oranges or watermelon? I don’t know, let’s experiment to find out.

Q: Does your hair break easier after you color it purple? I don’t know, let’s try experimenting.

If you don’t have a question, you don’t have an experiment.

If you already know what’s going to happen or what the answer is, you don’t have an experiment. 

Q: Does putting a bone in vinegar cause it to bend? Yes, we already know that, so it’s not an experiment. But, it’s still fun, so let’s do it.

The Hypothesis

To make it even more interesting you can make a hypothesis (educated guess) before you do your experiment. It’s like a bet against yourself.

Q: Will the grapes in the refrigerator or the grapes in my lunchbox turn into raisins faster? Hypothesis: I bet the grapes in my lunchbox will turn into raisins faster, because the sandwich I put in there last week is all dried up. Experiment: Wow, I was right!

The Science

Now comes the science part.

If you don’t try and figure out why your experiment turned out the way it did, you don’t have science.

Q: Which balloon, long and skinny or fat and round, makes my hovercraft fly higher? Let’s experiment. Oooh, it’s the round one. Why? The air must come out faster and force the CD off the table more. Cool science!

We can’t always figure out the cause or science of something, and that’s ok! The trying and thinking is what counts here.

Now, you’re ready to do some science experiments.

Science is questioning

The Science Fair Experiment

It’s great practice trying to come up with any new experiment – remember, the ones where you don’t already know the answer. Try thinking of a quick experiment to test today. Using your imagination and finding a problem to fix is the most important part of a science fair project.

Science fair experiments should be creative, original, and make the world a better place. What kind of subjects can make the world a better place? Think real life – like which wax will keep me on this surf board longer? Which toy do otters like best?

Check out this post on how to create your own science questions.

Need more help? Go ahead and ask in the comments below!

2 Comments
  1. edgar says:

    My name is edgar I did a project about onions and how well they grow with diffrent amounts of water. One and a half cups of water. One cup of water and a quarter cup of water. the one cup of water did not grow. Meanwhile the other amouts of water grew why is this

    1. Hi Edgar! Thanks for the question. I wrote your reply here http://anytimescience.com/how-many-times-science-experiment/ Good luck at the science fair.

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GET YOUR FREE SCIENCE FAIR CHEAT SHEET!

Learn the 3 Secrets to Winning from a science fair judge, teacher, and mom. It could be life changing. Make this science fair the best ever!

it's 100% free!
Only for K-8th Grade Winners!