Research: Investigation or experimentation aimed at the discovery and interpretation of facts, revision of accepted theories or laws in the light of new facts, or practical application of such new or revised theories or laws. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)
The definition above is a set of words that holds little significant meaning to most high school and college students. Most of us have never conducted real research in medical laboratories or collected data in the field, yet we hear all about scientific breakthroughs. The definition describes the actions that comprise research, but it fails to explain the meaning of research to us. We have a definition with little substance to which we can relate.
In elementary and middle school, many of us probably participated in our school science fairs where everyone got a participation medal or award. We probably demonstrated knowledge of some already proven fact. We did not do much to help contribute to the advancement of human society, but we still learned one major concept; we learned the scientific method. The scientific method is the most important concept that we learned from all of those years of experimentation. Research is the application of the scientific method to our daily lives.
The scientific method is the fundamental method that starts with asking a question. We look for background research to aid in the construction of a hypothesis and design a procedure to test our hypothesis. If it does not work, we modify our methods until we find a satisfactory solution to our initial problem. We then either support or reject the hypothesis once a conclusion has been made.
In upper level research, we can make new discoveries in fields ranging from diabetic studies to engineering a new battery. The possibilities are endless. As humans, we have an unlimited thirst for more and more knowledge. When participating in research, we try to satisfy the attainment of knowledge. Although we can never be fully comprehend every scientific phenomenon, we try our best to learn as much as we can.
I have conducted annual research projects from the basic elementary school level to the graduate level. Through these experiences, I have mastered the scientific method. It has allowed me to gain an in-depth perspective of the world since I am able to gather information and then apply it. For example, I am able to make enhanced decisions because I have developed my own process based on the scientific method. I take in all related information, apply it to my problem, and then use it to form a conclusion.
In my opinion, the elementary science fair project plays a crucial role in the development of our decision making process. We use it to conduct background research on topics that we want to answer. We make a hypothesis when we begin our research and then we collect information or data about what we want to know. And finally, we draw a conclusion based of the information that we have collected.
Editor: Ruby Halfacre