Scientific Method: Outline

What is the Scientific Method?

The scientific method is a basic outline that is required for for science fair projects. The steps in this outline were determine by observing the work of successful scientists of the past and they are still in use today. The steps shown here are in an order suggested for developing projects for most science fairs.


Research is the process of collecting information about a topic. This process includes reading, asking informed people, as well as performing exploratory experiments. Your first research will be to find a science topic that you want to know more about.

Once you have selected a topic, continue to research so that you can decide on a purpose for your project as well as collect backgound information so that you can predict an answer to your project question. The book shown has research information about how to develop a science fair project from start to finish. It also has project ideas for different science categories: astronomy, biology, chemistry, earth science, and physics.


The purpose is a statement that expresses the overall goal of your project. In other words, what do you want to discover or prove?


The question is your purpose as a question that identifies two parts, an independent variable and a dependent variable. Example: How does the amount of light affect the activity of gold fish? (A variable is something that can change, such as temperature.)


A hypothesis is what you think the answer to your project question is. You will be making a prediction based on previous knowledge as well as on your project research. Example: If the light intensity is constant, then as the amount of time the light is on increases the activity of the gold fish will increase.


A project experiment is performed to determine the accuracy of your hypothesis. It is a test in which you control how one variable changes so that you can observe how these changes effect another variable. In other words you must design an experiment that will show how to change the independent variable so that you can observe changes in the dependent variable. It is very important that you can measure these changes.

Important: A hypothesis doesn’t have to be right for the experiment to be correct.


The experimental results is the data you collect. In other words, the results of the experiment is recorded. This information can be measurements in a table, photographs, drawings, or a combination of these.


Your analysis of the results is a n interpretation of the experimental data.  In other words, what does all the data mean? This information can be be displayed in charts or graphs.


This is a summary of your experiment and should include answers to the following:

What was your hypothesis?

Did your experiment confirm that your hypothesis was correct?

If not, why do you think it wasn’t?

If you were to repeat the experiment, what would you do differently?

Control Experiment: This is the standard for the experiment. This means that the results of the project experiment are compared to the results of the control experiment.


Check with the rules of your fair to make sure you are proceeding in the order required.