Encourage children to try different ways of doing things to see which method works best.When they have questions such as “What happens when I mix all the colors together, or how much sleep do I need to feel rested before a big game?
Depending on the results of the experiment, it might conclude that the prediction was correct, or if not, further experimentation may be needed to reach an accurate conclusion.
Parents and teachers can create opportunities for children to try this way of thinking in many circumstances.
Teaching Critical Thinking through the Scientific Method The National Commission on Excellence in Education reported in 1983 that “Many 17-year-olds do not possess the ‘higher-order’ intellectual skills we should expect of them.
Nearly 40 percent cannot draw inferences from written material; only one-fifth can write a persuasive essay, and only one-third can solve a mathematics problem requiring several steps.” As the amount of factual information has increased, many educators are concerned that instruction has been focused too much on what a student should learn at the expense of teaching students how to learn, or more importantly, how to think.
But even when modified, the goal remains the same: to discover cause and effect relationships by asking questions, carefully gathering and examining the evidence, and seeing if all the available information can be combined in to a logical answer.
Even though we show the scientific method as a series of steps, keep in mind that new information or thinking might cause a scientist to back up and repeat steps at any point during the process.Encourage your children to use other observations, experiences, and knowledge to try and guess or predict what will happen in a certain circumstance.In this example, the child might remember seeing ants being attracted to honey in the kitchen and since the cereal is sweet, predict that the ants would eat the cereal. The child might pick two types of cereal, one sweetened and one non-sweetened and leave some out overnight in the kitchen where ants have been observed in the past.Does this mean all scientists follow exactly this process? Some areas of science can be more easily tested than others.For example, scientists studying how stars change as they age or how dinosaurs digested their food cannot fast-forward a star's life by a million years or run medical exams on feeding dinosaurs to test their hypotheses.Sometimes the scientific method is taught with seven steps instead of six.In this model, the first step of the scientific method is to make observations.Observe your subject and record everything about it.Include colors, timing, sounds, temperatures, changes, behavior, and anything that strikes you as interesting or significant.Really, even if you don't make observations formally, you think about prior experiences with a subject in order to ask a question or solve a problem.Formal observations are a type of brainstorming that can help you find an idea and form a hypothesis.