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How to Interpret Scientific Evidence

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  • 0:01 Scientific Evidence
  • 1:01 Your Proposed Experiment
  • 1:36 Does the Data Fit?
  • 2:49 Interpreting It
  • 3:24 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Yuanxin (Amy) Yang Alcocer

Amy has a master's degree in secondary education and has taught math at a public charter high school.

Watch this video lesson to learn how you can tell whether or not your scientific data answers your question by determining what your data is telling you. Then test your new knowledge with a quiz!

Scientific Evidence

Imagine that you have just finished a science experiment; you've collected your scientific evidence, which is all the data you collected during your experiment. You now need to find out whether the scientific evidence you collected answers your question or not. You also need to find out what your scientific evidence tells you about your question.

For example, imagine that your experiment was about finding the boiling point of salt water versus fresh water. Your scientific evidence includes all the temperature readings that you took as you heated up both your salt water and your fresh water. You actually have two sets of temperature data - one for the fresh water and one for the salt water. You now need to see if your data answers your question of which type of water boils faster and whether or not the evidence you collected supports your hypothesis, which is your pre-experiment prediction. To do all of this you need to figure out exactly what your data is telling you.

Your Proposed Experiment

Let's see how you can do this. Your experiment is about the boiling point of salt water versus fresh water. Your proposed hypothesis is that salt water has a higher boiling point than fresh water. To help you determine if your data answers your question and if it agrees with your hypothesis, ask yourself if the scientific evidence (your data) agrees with the hypothesis, what can you expect to see? You would expect to see that as the temperature rises, the salt water won't start to boil at the same temperature as the fresh water. It will begin to boil at a higher temperature.

Does the Data Fit?

Now you know what to look for, let's see if your data fits. Looking at your data, you look for the point where you have noted when each type of water began to boil. You look at your fresh water data and see that it boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit. Then you look at your salt water data, and see that it boils at 216 degrees Fahrenheit. If this data fits the hypothesis, your salt water data needs to have a higher boiling point. Does it? Yes it does! So, this data both answers your question and agrees with your hypothesis.

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