Step Two— Gather information and resources (observe)
Welcome back to our Be Amazing Parents’ Blog. This entry is the third in our seven-part series on the scientific method. As a reminder, the steps of the scientific method are:
- Define a question or problem
- Gather information and resources (observe)
- Form a hypothesis
- Perform experiments and collect data
- Analyze data
- Interpret data and draw conclusions
- Publish results
You can read an overview of the scientific method and more information on step one (Define a question or problem) on our earlier blog entries. This week we are highlighting step two, “Observe—gather information and resources.” The main skills behind this step of the scientific method are:
“FOCUS, SEE, and WRITE IT DOWN!”
Just like curiosity, observation comes naturally to kids. Most parents learn pretty quickly (and sometimes somewhat embarrassingly) that kids seem to see and hear everything, and may report on those discoveries at inopportune times. (“Guess what my dad said about you?” Or, “Did you know that my mom has purple underwear?”) Once again, your job as a learning facilitator is to harness this native skill and turn your young scientist’s powers to good!
While curiosity and observation come naturally to kids, the ability to focus is a learned skill. Practicing targeted observation as used in the scientific method is a good way to learn focus, and can really help kids develop science and study skills, as well as being a whole lot of fun.
One really great way to learn this step of the scientific method is to buy a notebook for your young scientist to use to record observations on chosen topics. Younger scientists may need your help in writing things down, or can draw pictures of their observations (drawing pictures is great for more experienced scientists, too.) Writing down observations helps to improve focus, memory, and persistence skills, and your budding Einstein will enjoy looking back on past scientific explorations.
You can even turn the learning of this skill into a game. While the possibilities are only limited by your imagination, here are some ideas to get you started:
- Take your observation notebook on a walk and write down (or draw a picture of) everything you see that is blue
- Take your notebook on a car ride and keep track of how many red lights and how many green lights your car meets
- Select several kinds of fruit (for instance, banana, strawberry, peach, watermelon, grape, and apple), cut them in half, and use your observation notebook to record your observations of the different places fruits keep their seeds or to draw pictures of what the fruits look like inside.
- Go on a leaf hunt and gather different leaves. Have your young scientist draw and describe the leaves, paying particular attention to how they are alike and how they are different
An observation notebook can even be used to write down questions or ideas. Encourage your young scientist to pick a topic of interest and keep track of their ideas and discoveries. For instance, they might write:
“Today I’m wondering about: ”
The use of a notebook and targeted observation lead naturally into the next step of the scientific method: “Form a hypothesis.” Join us next time as we tackle this step!
Join us next week as we tackle scientific method step three: form a hypothesis