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A successful project requires use of the "scientific method." That is not difficult; it only requires that the student: Observe, Plan, Experiment, and Explain what happens in the project.

Usually applied in a series of steps, the scientific method includes:

  • Observing a single event or a group of events and recognizing a problem.
  • Identifying a question to be asked.
  • Formulating a hypothesis or attempting to explain what should happen.
  • Designing and planning for experimentation or testing of the hypothesis.

In order to form a generalized conclusion, an investigation must include a number of observations of the events being investigated. For example, if the question is "Does the presence of sunlight affect the growth of petunia plants?" then a dozen petunia plants must be examined over a time interval in the presence of sunlight (experimental group), while another dozen plants must be subjected to the same conditions but in the absence of sunlight (control group). Using one or two plants in each group will not produce a valid investigation.

Conducting the experiment

  • Keep daily records, recording observations in an orderly manner in tables and charts.
  • Be certain observations include the units of measurement being used.
  • Determine whether results recorded in tables can be more easily understood with the use of graphs.
  • All graphs must have a title which tells the reader what the graph is explaining.
  • The abscissa (x-axis) and ordinate (y-axis) should be labeled indicating the units and dimensions.
  • Drawing conclusions–Making sense of what has been observed. Making a generalization based on observations and results.