Forming a Hypothesis
Are you ready to science?
Whether you’re a chemical student, a science fair competitor, or the parent of a science fair competitor, you won’t get far with the scientific method without knowing a bit about hypotheses.
These fun little guys are an integral part of the process of experimentation.
In order to properly perform an experiment according to the scientific method, you have to know all about them.
That’s why we’ve created this tailor-made article to answer all your hypothesis questions. Read on to discover all the ins and outs of the hypothesis and gain the knowledge you need to go full-on mad scientist.
Introducing the Hypothesis, Your Scientific Companion
The definition of hypothesis varies depending on who you ask but can be boiled down to simple terms.
A hypothesis is basically an answer to a question you think up during the scientific processes of observation and experimental design.
Stay with me.
Say you’re interested in the behavior of your fish. How would a different food affect his behavior?
In answering that question, you form your hypothesis.
If you believe your fish will become more active, your hypothesis would go something like this:
“If I feed the fish brand Y instead of brand X, then he will become more active”. However, there’s much more to forming a hypothesis than simply answering a question.
Scientific hypotheses are carefully researched, and follow a few rules:
- A scientific hypothesis must be testable. It is a statement which is designed to be experimented against, therefore you must make an experiment. It is stated in an “if/then” sentence, allowing it to be easily tested.
- It must be non-biased in nature. This means that the experiment set up to prove it must be designed to allow it also to be This is known as falsifiability, and is one of the main principles of the scientific hypothesis.
- It must be rational. This means that it’s based off of facts, observations and previous research rather than emotions or intuition. Forming hypotheses in a rational manner is paramount to upholding the values of the scientific method and science in general.
How to Form a Hypothesis in a Scientific Manner
There is no cut-and-dry process for how to write a hypothesis, but rather a series of guidelines.
In fact, science is rapidly advancing every day. You’ve got to be diligent in learning the most recent how’s and what’s. Are hypotheses just some random predictions?
It’s not. There are steps you must take to design your hypothesis correctly.
If you’re confused about making a one, don’t worry. There are a few tried-and-true steps you can take to ensure your hypothesis is bonafide:
The first step is simply to observe. This is done with the naked eye, but also with observation tools like microscopes, thermometers and whatever else you need. This would, of course, depend entirely on what you are observing.
Observation also includes scientific research into studies and experiments that have been performed on the same subject or similar subjects.
If you are observing how your fish eats, you should probably read up on the brand of food. See if it was tested out in a lab before being released to the public. Read the published papers. In considering performing an experiment on it, research the other brand of food as well.
2. Identify the Question and Answer
Once you have enough background information, you can identify your question. You’ve observed your fish, read everything you could get your hands on about its food. Now you pose the question: “What will happen if I switch the fish food from brand X to brand Y?”
Through your research and observation, you should be able to come up with an educated guess (AKA your hypothesis): “If I feed the fish brand Y instead of brand X, then he will become more active”.
3. Design Experiment
Now for the fun part! You’ve got to design an experiment in order to test your hypothesis. First, identify your dependent and independent variables, factors having a cause-and-effect relationship in the experiment.
In this case, the independent variable would be the food, and the dependent one would be your fish. Design an experiment by manipulating your independent variable to change the outcome for the dependent one.
In this case, you would manipulate the type of food to change the outcome in the behavior of your fish to determine if your hypothesis was correct.
How Can You Recognize a Great Hypothesis?
A great hypothesis is testable, rational and falsifiable. It is not necessarily true. Here are a few hypotheses examples:
- If you drink coffee late at night, then you will have trouble sleeping.
- If you eat a low-carb diet, then you will lose weight.
- If you exercise regularly, then you will have a healthier heart.
All of these statements follow the three principles. You could easily form an experiment around any one of them.
Your Hypothesis is the Gateway to the Scientific Method
Forming a hypothesis is fun and rewarding. It’s the next stop on your journey deep into the heart of science. So, put your gloves on, get out your magnifying glass and start asking questions!