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Science Terms for Kids

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  • 0:00 What is Science?
  • 0:47 Experiment
  • 1:33 Hypothesis
  • 2:43 Theory
  • 3:39 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Steve Madden
In this lesson, you will learn the meaning of science and three important words that go with it. Understanding what science is and how these three words are used can help you become a better science student.

What Is Science?

Science is knowledge that is gained by study. This means that when a person wants to know how something works, like the weather, he will study it to learn. That person is called a scientist.

One famous scientist was Galileo Galilei, who wanted to understand how the planets that appeared in the night sky moved. He invented a telescope that allowed him to see that the planets had moons and that the planets moved around the sun in the solar system. He observed what he saw, and he wrote about it. That is science!

There are lots of words that go with science, but there are three very important words that every scientist should understand. Let's look at those words now.

Experiment

You can think of an experiment as a kind of test that tries to show or prove something. Scientists use experiments to learn more about things by trying specific actions on those things and writing their results. When scientists try a lot of different experiments, they gain more knowledge and can predict how things will work in the future.

For example, a scientist named Wernher von Braun made giant rockets that sent men to land on the moon. But before he built those rockets, he launched thousands of smaller rockets for many years so he could learn how rockets work. He tried many different shapes and different kinds of fuel until he understood how to build bigger and better rockets. All those rocket launches were experiments.

Hypothesis

A hypothesis is an educated guess about how something will work or behave. Scientists make guesses all the time about how things work based on what they observe.

For example, a scientist might say, 'I believe that if I drop a rock and feather at the same time, the rock will hit the ground first.' Then the scientist will set up several experiments to see if she is correct. One experiment might be to hold a rock in one hand and a feather in the other, then open both hands at the same time. She would observe that the rock really does hit the ground first.

A second experiment might be the same as the first, but this time the feather is soaked in wax. The scientist would then observe that the rock and feather hit the ground at the same time. She would learn that her hypothesis, or her guess, is not always correct. This means that several more experiments are needed.

What makes science so fun is that scientists ask questions and guess at the answers - they make hypotheses - so they can set up experiments or find evidence. Using the results from their experiments and observations, they can then make a theory.

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