MYP 6 Science - Chemistry

MYP 6.1.3: The scientific method


  • To introduce the concept of a fair test
  • To highlight the importance of standardisation
  • To highlight the importance of communication


Finding the best running shoes

A running shoe manufacture, Pumidas, wishes to find out which type of shoe will allow an athlete to go faster. He gives 8 different types of shoe to eight different athletes in a 100m sprint race.

The winner is Usain Bolt in a new world record of 9.41 s, wearing the Pumidas "LightningTM"

What can the shoe manufacturer learn from this?

The scientific method

The scientific principle rests upon a tried and tested sequence.

  1. observation or idea
  2. theory or hypothesis to explain observation
  3. fair test
  4. repeat
  5. publication
  6. peer review
  7. acceptance

The scientific principle cannot ever prove a hypothesis or theory, it can only provide evidence in support of a theory.

When enough people repeat the experimentation and obtain similar results the theory becomes accepted, BUT it is never proven. One day a piece of evidence may be unearthed that disproves the theory.


For hundreds of years biologists had only observed white swans. They came to the conclusion that only white swans existed.

Their theory was that all swans are white.

However, when the continent of Australasia was discovered so were black swans. The scientist's theory was disproved.

To communicate results and ideas to different scientists it is important to use the same language, that of science. It would be no use explaining to somebody from Mars that the distance from Madrid to Barcelona is 600km if the Martians had no idea of kilometers.

As scientists we must all use the same measurements and units. This is called standardisation.

An aside ...

The world is not a perfect place and there are still problems when groups of scientists or engineers use non-standard units.

Mars probe build in two places in the USA. One used imperial (old) measurements and the other used SI measurements. They missed Mars and lost billions of dollars worth of rocket into outer space. [link]



Science Spotlight 7: p180-3


A brief history of the metre

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