Ode to Scientific Method

By Aviana Duca

Over my spring break, I was helping my little brother with his middle school science fair project, titled Ode to Snot. His project was about the effects that nasal mucus has on odor perception. For those that didn’t hear my brother’s hypothesis and abstract at the dinner table for a week straight, who knew that the much-neglected nasal mucus has such an important role in transporting odorants to receptors in the nose? He designed his experiment to have a control group, a test population, and a well thought out procedure to determine the accuracy of his hypothesis. I was able to shed some light on the scientific process and help him analyze and interpret data. Working with him allowed me to realize how far I have come as a scientist and this only excites me as I begin to work on my own experiment.

Working with my brother helped me to realize that no matter what age you are, what your experiment is, or what you are trying to prove, the scientific thought process is universal. The scientific method is a logical thought process that is used by scientists to acquire and interpret data. Experiments involve observation and two different kinds of reasoning strategies, inductive and deductive reasoning. Inductive reasoning is when broad generalizations are made from specific observations. This is helpful when designing an experiment and coming up with what to test. Deductive reasoning is when a scientist starts out with a general statement and preforms an experiment to reach a conclusion. The scientific method uses deduction to support or disprove the hypotheses.

What makes the scientific method so attractive is that it can be applied to both complicated problems and everyday occurrences. It is a step-by-step process that leads to a conclusion. While my brother’s experiment and my own are at two different levels, the steps we follow are fundamental to our success. Working with my brother helped me to organize ideas for my project and the direction that I want to take. I look forward to getting back into the lab and moving to more hands-on experimentation. I also look forward to see what results and data will be obtained and what discoveries will be made. Watching him go through the process of testing a hypothesis reconfirmed my love for science.

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About emilyjanefisher

Lecturer at Johns Hopkins University currently teaching biochemistry, cell biology, microbiology, and the phage hunters lab. I grew up in Palo Alto, California, went to school at UC Santa Cruz (home of the banana slugs--our school mascot and state mollusk), and got my PhD from UNC Chapel Hill.
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