< H O M E >    S T E P S or S T A G E S    O F   S M - 1 4      1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 10 11 12 13 14    < I N D E X >

STEP OR STAGE #1 of the Scientific Method


Scientific Method Observation

Curious observation is the start of the inductive process. Discovery of new problems, ideas, theories, decisions needed, and problem prevention usually begin with curious observation using the five senses: smelling, tasting, hearing, feeling, seeing.

Instruments and tools can be used to help extend these senses. Use your sense perceptions and projections visually and mentally. Turn thoughts over and over in your mind. Use reasoning, your imagination, and introspection. Being in the right mood, motivated, and sensitive helps! Train your mind to interpret what you see. Learn to be a problem solver.

Scientific Method Lesson:

Where Does Problem Origination
or Discovery Begin?

The answer is "no particular place." Some of the more typical instances are:

  • Things that you feel might fill a need - or that irritate or perplex you.
  • Previous experience - You have some thing or theory to investigate.
  • Need project - Looking or brainstorming for problems or fields to investigate.
  • Triggered interest - You decide to investigate as a result of surprise, chance, accidental discovery, observation, illumination, serendipity, reading, experimenting, reflective thinking, or clue. It may also result from a combination of events and things.
  • Assigned, suggested, or thrust - A specific problem or field to pursue.
  • Recognition of potential trouble - Preventive investigation required.
  • Solution of one problem - This often reveals other problems.

Scientific Method Observation:

What Should You Be Seeking
and Be Sensitive To?

  • Any of the above. Stay alert. Develop recognition skills. Be persistent.
  • Problems worthy of solution, practical to investigate new fertile fields.
  • Ordinary things to be examined in a new way and with new meaning.
  • Other scientific method observations, such as:
Curiosities Relationships Suppositions Leads
Differences Disturbances Comparisons Challenges
Similarities Intimations Obstacles Surprises
Patterns Unusual results "Thorns in flesh" Opportunities
Experiments needed Problematic situations Listen to others Unexpected failures

Curious Observation in Scientific Method
Also Involves Other Thinking Skills

Evaluating Visualizing Imagining Classifying
Abstracting Planning Describing Questioning
Computing Communicating Judging Interpreting
Conjecturing Inferring Measuring Comparing

Scientific Method Lesson:

Develop the Attribute of Curiosity

You will use it throughout.

  • Constantly observe! - Ask questions: What, Why, Which, Where, When, Who, How, and If.
  • Visualize what might be. Accept nothing as "fact."
  • Be an innovator! - Cultivate curiosity to find and develop new ideas.

Read, skip, and skim publications and the internet for data, ideas, and triggers for ideas for a scientific method solution.

Having found something, continue on now and use scientific method observation to define the problem. If necessary, gather more information before trying to define the problem.

And never forget, any solutions you derive, no matter how good, should always be considered tentative!

The Thinking Skills Associated With Scientific Method Observation:

Critical Thinking Skills

The successful use of the scientific method requires the use of numerous thinking skills. On the other pages of this booklet, many of these skills are listed. In recent years the term "critical thinking skills" and "higher order thinking skills" have been used extensively. People defining these terms use a wide variety of definitions -- some simple, others are very complicated. This creates many teaching problems. Is it really an impossible job to say which are simple ones, which are critical and which are higher order.

Also, the word "critical" is associated with criticizing and this causes misunderstanding and scares students.

Many people point out the principal use for thinking is to solve problems and make decisions. Thus, I recommend the use of the terms "thinking skills'' and "problem solving thinking skills," rather than "critical thinking skills" or "higher order thinking skills."

Teaching the Scientific Method

Any time thinking skills are taught you should also teach the steps or stages and supporting ingredients of the Master Method of Problem Solving -- The Scientific Method - also the Scientific Method of Research.

Students will be much more motivated to learn problem solving skills."