How to Explain the Scientific Method to Children

The scientific method is a set of procedures that scientists follow in order to develop the laws that govern our world and our society. And while it's innate to human beings, discovering its steps can be very useful. So, in the following article, we'll tell you how to explain the scientific method to children.
How to Explain the Scientific Method to Children
Olga Carbajo

Written and verified by the biologist Olga Carbajo.

Last update: 17 March, 2023

There’s an old saying that states that “curiosity killed the cat.” But, thanks to the fact that we’re curious beings, we’ve come this far. The scientific method is innate to human beings, but it’s still important for us to understand it. And that’s why we want to tell you how to explain the scientific method to children.

Our abilities to observe have brought us to formulate the most incredible theories about the cosmos, about human beings… However, the path that leads us to those theories must be clearly marked. Otherwise, we don’t know if the results represent reality or are the fruit of mere coincidence. And that’s where the importance of the scientific method comes in.

Over the course of history, the focus of science has varied quite a bit. For example, empiricism, rationalism, inductivism, as well as social realities. How we explain the scientific method and how to focus and apply it will later influence the interpretation of the results by the investigator. But, just what is the scientific method and why is it always the subject of debate?

What is the scientific method?

Before you can explain the scientific method to children, you need to understand it yourself. The scientific method refers to a set of steps and procedures that scientists use to provide a reasonable response to the processes we observe. It applies to both natural phenomena as well as social realities and allows us to formulate laws that help us comprehend these realities.

Since ancient Greece and as well as Mesopotamia, debate forums were common. There, scholars exchanged their points of view and the conclusions they drew after arduous investigation procedures. Therefore, it’s impossible to know to whom we should give credit for the scientific method. After all, it’s part of science itself and, therefore, part of human beings.

How to Explain the Scientific Method to Children

Despite the discrepancies that have existed among scientists throughout history, it seems they do indeed agree on the steps to follow – not necessarily on their order, however.

Some scientists depart from the premise that the method is cyclical and can begin at any point. However, we’re going to opt for the linear path in order to explain the scientific method to children in a simple way .

How to explain the scientific method to children

Explaining the scientific method to children can be fun and simple if we imagine we’re the best sleuths in the city. There’s no other investigator that compares to us. And like the old hounds we are, we have our tricks to keep anything from getting past us. But, above all, what makes us most exceptional is that we’re very, very thorough.

The scientific method starts when the detective – the scientist – asks a question about something he or she observes. From then on, we always follow this same road map and make a point to be open to any possibility.

  • Observation: Microscope, magnifying glass, and telescope in hand – depending on the situation. We’ll analyze the clues and facts of the event meticulously. Of course, it’s also important to always take along a pencil and paper to take notes.
  • Formation of the hypothesis: An hypothesis is a preliminary idea of what may have occurred and how a phenomenon may have taken place.
  • Experimentation: Now we must prove whether or not our explanation is correct. To do so, we’ll design an experiment to test it.
  • Organization and data analysis: We’ll organize all of the data we’ve obtained in our experiment into tables and graphs that make interpretation easier.
  • Conclusion: When we get to this point, two things can occur. Did the experiment confirm the original hypothesis? If the answer is no, we’ll need to go back to point 3 and design a new experiment. However, if the answer is yes…
  • Communication: Now that we know who the culprit is, the only thing we have left to do is present our findings in a report.
How to Explain the Scientific Method to Children

And just as Sherlock Holmes said:

“There’s nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.”

Conclusions on how to explain the scientific method to children

Currently, our children apply the scientific method at school without even realizing it. Of course, this takes place mostly, but not exclusively, in science classes. Any small amount of research they must do in order to tackle a task in class already involves the use of this method. In some cases, it will be intentional, but in many others, it will be innate.

The application of the scientific method in life promotes rational and analytical capabilities. It also requires children to express themselves in a clear and concise manner, thus improving their linguistic abilities. What’s more, having to refute a theory helps children be self-critical regarding their own work and verbalize their conclusions.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

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This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.