Plainly stated the scientific method involves taking an observation, asking a question about that observation, brainstorming possible answers culminating in the most probable answer, quantitatively testing that answer, and finally coming to a conclusion as to whether the most probable answer is the best answer given the test results. At that point, if the most probable answer is not the best answer, given the test results, the process starts again and again until the best answer can be found. In scientific terms, these steps are simply: observation, question, answers, hypothesis (most probable answer), testing, and conclusion (Carter, 1996). In order to better understand the scientific method, I have chosen two experiments. The first involves plant growth and sunlight while the second has to do with computer networks. The most probable answer to the first experiment is that plants grow towards light and the most probable answer to the second experiment is that my PDA needs to be configured properly.
The scientific method always starts with an observation. In this case, my observation is that plants that use light in the process of photosynthesis always grow towards a window rather than away from/neutral to a window. It is important to limit this observation to plants that use photosynthesis as a means of producing food because many plants do not need sunlight and therefore would not grow towards the light. In our experiment, we will use a Hedera helix otherwise known as an English Ivy (I eat plants, 2005). The question for this observation would be why the English Ivy grows towards the light and not away from/neutral to the window. Possible answers to this question could include: The glass in the window is static charged and therefore causes an electric attraction with the plant. The plant is attracted to the sunlight coming through the window. Out of these possible answers I chose the latter, which I believe is the most probable explanation for the plant’s behavior. In order to test this hypothesis, I placed three plants on motorized turntables which spun the plants around constantly. I also placed three plants in a stationary position by the window. Furthermore, I kept all variables exactly the same. I watered all six plants in the exact same manner. They were all placed in the same window pane ensuring equal lighting. I potted the plants in the exact same dirt and in the exact same size pot ensuring equality in water absorption and retention. Additionally, the window was left completely open day and night alleviating the possibility that the plants were attracted to the glass in the window. The only variable that was allowed to vary was the turntables for three of the plants. The plants were kept this way for a period of two weeks. I watered them once a day with approximately one-half cup of water. At the end of the testing period, the two plants that were positioned on the east side of the pane were almost dead. These two plants were on turntables. Upon further observation, it was determined that these plants died from over-exposure to light because the setting sun was directly on them daily. Further experimentation will have to be done so that this hypothesis can be verified. Maybe in the future, this experiment could be conducted on a windowpane that does not receive direct sunlight. However, the plant to the west on the turntable lived and the conclusion of this experiment will be based on this plant. The plant that was on the turntable grew straight out in all directions. However, the three plants that were not on the turntable grew only towards the open window. The best conclusion given these test results is that the plants were attracted to the sunlight.
The other day I was over at my mother’s house and tried to connect to her wireless Linksys router with my PDA. Usually, all I have to do is turn on the wireless antenna on the PDA and it will automatically connect. The question then would be why my PDA was not automatically connected to the router. Possible answers could be: The router is not set up to automatically connect. My PDA was not configured properly. I chose the latter because I set up the wireless network and know for a fact that it was configured to connect automatically. So my hypothesis is that my PDA was not configured correctly. My testing entailed changing the settings of my PDA from automatic connection to manual connection. Once I changed this setting I had to provide a static IP address to my PDA that was registered with the router. I already knew the IP address so I entered it into my PDA. Then I enable the wireless antenna again and it connected correctly. Therefore my conclusion is that the PDA was not configured to connect to the router properly. Upon further investigation, it was determined that my PDA does not work automatically with Linksys routers. At my home, I use a Netgear router which can automatically connect to my PDA.
In conclusion, my hypothesis for the first experiment was that the English Ivy would grow towards the open window because it is attracted to sunlight. This hypothesis proved to be the best explanation for the given test results. In the second experiment, I predicted that my PDA wasn’t configured properly to connect to the router automatically. Upon further testing, it was determined that this explanation was the best explanation. In both experiments, my chosen hypothesis proved to be the best explanation for the given questions.
Carter, J. S. (1996). The scientific method. Retrieved January 6, 2007, from http://biology.clc.uc.edu/courses/bio104/sci_meth.htm
I eat plants living laboratory. (2005). Retrieved January 6, 2007, from Center for Veterinary Health Science Web site: http://www.library.okstate.edu/vetmed/about/ieatplants/plants.htm