Structure of a Science Experiment

by Helene Louise  

Recently, I was helping my daughter with her science homework and we were reviewing the basic steps of a science experiment—you start with a purpose, then you do your research, state your hypothesis, actually conduct the experiment, analyze the results and finally, arrive at a conclusion.

In my book I wrote about how, in setting goals for my daughter's rehabilitation after a childhood stroke, I loosely followed the structure of a “briefing note” which is a document often used in government decision-making. Briefing notes are structured to clearly identify the issue, that is, what's to be decided on or achieved, the background information, the considerations, and then, the next steps to be followed to achieve the intended outcome. In helping my daughter with her homework, however, I realized that the structure of a science experiment is equally applicable to figuring out how to achieve something, regardless of the context. 

In the end, I don't think it really matters how you go about setting your goals as long as you make a reasonable attempt to apply some logic to it all. A clear idea of what you want to achieve, some thinking about the factors that can influence the outcome as well as the steps you might follow in order to move towards your goal must surely be more effective than just diving in and desperately hoping for the best. 

I've tried both approaches over the years and although I have no specific data to analyze, I am certain that the logical and structured approach has been much more effective than when I've simply thrown my efforts at something without much thought. It's not scientific, but that's definitely my conclusion.


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