As we move forward with our individual science investigations, we need to look back to Dr. OPHERC before we take our next "step" in the scientific method. So far, we have made observations (O) about topics that interest us (cookies, baseball, Call of Duty 4, nail polish, skateboards, etc.), and have developed testable questions (P - problem/question) for our own scientific investigations. Therefore, our next step is to make and write a hypothesis (H) so that we can move on with our experiments (E)!
People tend to describe a hypothesis as "an educated guess". However, as scientists, a hypothesis is much more than that. A hypothesis is the predicted answer to the scientist's testable scientific question, based on observations, prior knowledge, and background research. In the next blog post, we will learn how to include our "observations, prior knowledge, and background research" in our written hypotheses. **FYI: hypotheses is the plural form of hypothesis = hypotheses is more than one hypothesis**
Theory vs. Hypothesis
Earlier this year, we learned that a theory and hypothesis are two very different things. A theory is a essentially a hypothesis that has been tested and proven (time after time) by many scientists over many generations. Think of a theory as a highly "confident claim" (unlike the "tentative claim" that describes a hypothesis). Check out the rap video called "Theory vs. Hypothesis" by Coma Niddy on You Tube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R56gU1-Nmgg) for homework to help you better understand the difference between a theory and a hypothesis. You will need to watch the video to complete the assignment at the bottom.
Below is a quick summary of the "observations, prior knowledge, and background research" on which we base our hypotheses.
- Observations: All of the qualitative and quantitative observations you have made about your topic that will help you to make a logical prediction. These observations can also include your own experiences with the topic.
- Prior knowledge: All of the things you already know about your topic that will help you make a logical prediction. This knowledge can come from previous teachers, books you have read, videos you have watched, etc. Keep in mind that what you might think to be knowledge could actually be inaccurate or a matter of opinion.
- Background research: Any information you can find on your topic (that will help you make a logical prediction) from reliable online, print, audio, and/or video sources. Background research is actually like a mini "secondary research investigation" since you are using the data collected by other scientists! **FYI, Ms. Abounader will be teaching us how to search for reliable sources.**
Let's use my experiment on the topic "Pandora and Work Productivity" to help us understand how to use our observations, prior knowledge, and background research to develop a hypothesis. As a reminder, the testable question I plan to address through my controlled investigation is, "How does listening to Pandora while doing work on shonscience.com affect work productivity (the amount of work completed in the same amount of time)?"
Observations: What have I observed about my topic?
- Students generally love listening to music. Anytime we go on a field trip, for example, students never hesitate to ask for an opportunity to listen to their iPods, smartphones, etc.
- Students have told me that they listen to music while doing homework. Some have even stated that it helps them to get more work done.
- Whenever I want to get work done at home, I almost always listen to music.
- Whenever I exercise, I almost always listen to upbeat music to keep me going.
Prior Knowledge: What do I already know about my topic?
- Listening to music can impact mood. This is why "music therapy" exists!
- Pandora is a fast way to allow people to listen to the music they prefer since people can choose and/or create their own radio stations.
Background Research: What new information about my topic did I find?
- According to the NY Times article, "The Power of Music, Tapped in a Cubicle", a study found that "those who listened to music completed their tasks more quickly and came up with better ideas than those who didn’t, because the music improved their mood."
- According to "Listening to Music: Boosting or Reducing Work Productivity?", a study found that listening to music while doing work can boost work productivity simply by blocking out noise. "...plugging your ears with ear buds or headphones and listening to music can block out external noise and be an act of taking control over what you hear, leading to better motivation for doing the job at hand."
- Both of the above articles also mentioned that an individual's personality and the type of music played a role on how listening to music affects work productivity.
Now that I have my observations, prior knowledge, and background research outlined, I am equipped to make a hypothesis! In the next blog post, we will learn how to incorporate these things into the actual written hypothesis.
Write the questions below and answer them in your science notebook in complete sentences.
1. What is a hypothesis?
2. What does tentative mean?
3. What is the relationship between a hypothesis and hypotheses?
4. What is the difference between a theory and a hypothesis?
5. What three things are needed to develop a hypothesis?
6. How does "background research" help a scientist to develop a stronger prediction (hypothesis)?
7. How is background research also like a mini "secondary research investigation"? Explain.
8. Can your personal experiences be used to develop a hypothesis? Explain.
9. What is your hypothesis for Ms. Shon's Pandora experiment?
10. According to the video, what is one example of a theory?
11. According to the video, can theories change (be modified)?
12. According to the video, is "dark matter" a theory or hypothesis? Explain.