Scientific Ways of Thinking

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  • 0:01 Science
  • 1:10 Ask Questions
  • 2:28 Make Observations
  • 3:04 Form a Hypothesis
  • 3:38 Test & Conclude
  • 5:13 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Rebecca Gillaspy

Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

Are you interested in becoming a scientist? Science is all about gaining knowledge by asking good questions, making observations, testing your ideas and drawing conclusions. With a little practice, you can learn to think like a scientist.


Are you curious about the world around you? Do you like to learn about how things work? Did you ever come up with a creative solution to a problem? If you answered yes to these questions, then you might already think like a scientist. Science is a system used to gain knowledge based on observations, testing and reasoning. In fact, the word science comes from the Latin word 'scientia,' which means 'knowledge.' When a scientist wants to know something, he or she uses the scientific method to figure it out. The scientific method is an organized way of studying something. The scientific method is something that all scientists learn and use. It involves following logical steps. These steps include: asking questions, making observations, making an educated guess, testing your ideas and forming a conclusion. In this lesson, I would like you to follow along as James and his little brother, Joey, encounter a dog. Let's see if you can identify when James is using a scientific way of thinking.

Ask Questions

James is in middle school. Every day after school he walks over to the elementary school to pick up his little brother, Joey, so they can walk home together. On their way home, they pass a junk yard surrounded by a fence. This day, the brothers notice that there is a dog inside the junk yard. Joey is excited and wants to know if he can pet the dog. James knows that not all dogs are safe to pet so he asks himself a question, 'is the dog friendly?'

James doesn't realize it, but he just thought like a scientist. The first step that all scientists make when trying to figure something out is to ask questions. You might want to use a little trick called the 5 Ws to master the art of asking good questions. The 5 Ws are: who, what, when, where and why. These words start the questions that help you to gather information. For example, James could ask, 'who owns the dog?', 'what type of dog is it?', 'when is it safe to pet a dog?', 'where is the owner?' or 'why is the dog by itself?'

Make Observations

Joey is really anxious to pet the dog, but James doesn't want him to get bitten. So, James takes a look at the situation. He sees that the dog is big and muscular and wearing a spiked collar around its neck. James listens closely and hears a faint growl coming from the dog. Did you notice that James just used his sense of sight and hearing to make observations about the environment? Using your senses to make observations is another example of using a scientific approach to solve a problem.

Form a Hypothesis

Because of the observations James made, he is ready to make an educated guess about whether or not he should let his little brother pet the dog. This educated guess is formally called a hypothesis. It is an idea that can be tested. A hypothesis is a simple statement that is only one sentence in length. A good way to write a hypothesis statement is to use the words 'if' and 'then.' For example, if the dog is growling, then it is not safe to pet.

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