Analyzing the Results
Now that your experimentation is done, you need to organize the results and make conclusions. Sometimes, scientists are fooled by looking only at raw data – making an incorrect assumption that the data does or does not support the hypothesis. Carefully follow the steps or you may miss important information and new ideas suggested by your data.
There are three steps to this process:
Organize your Raw Data
Be sure to use neat, easily understood graphs and tables. Don't leave anything out, or skip any information. Some of the best science discoveries come from our "mistakes".
Analyze your data
Compare results from different trials or treatments. Remember you are just presenting the facts, not what you think it means. If you have unexpected results, try to figure out why. Was there a problem with your hypothesis interfere? Did you make a mistake?
Decide what it means
Now that you know how accurate your data is, and some of the problems with it, you can draw your conclusions. What does your data really tell you about your question? Remember, data can never prove your hypothesis – the next experiment might prove you wrong. Your data can, however, disprove your hypothesis.
Things to Think About
- Did I use enough trials to make sure the thing I was testing was actually tested?
- Did I think of all the things that might have affected the outcome that were not related to what I was testing?
- If there were things that affected the outcome, how could I acknowledge them and still present my results?
- If someone were to use my procedures, would his/her data be similar (but not the exact same) as my data?
- Why is this information important to know? How does it affect my everyday life, the environment, etc?
When you analyze your findings, you are taking the raw data information and explaining why you think things happened. You do this in your own words. Think of it as if you were telling a friend what happened and why you think it happened. In your analysis, you should be describing/answering these kinds of things:
- Explain your observations, data, and results. This is a summary of what your data has shown you.
- List the main points that you have learned.
- Why did the results occur?
- What did your experiment suggest?
- Did your experiment support or disprove your hypothesis?
Here is a spreadsheet to help you understand some statistics involved with your science project.
Once you have completed your analysis, you are ready to conclude your findings. Your conclusion is basically stating whether or not your hypothesis was supported and why and how you would do this differently. It should cover the following:
- Answer your problem/purpose statement.
- What does it all add up to? What is the value of your project?
- What further study do you recommend given the results of your experiment?
- What would be the next question to ask?
- If you repeated this project, what would you change?