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Exploring In-depth: The Scientific Method

Research scientists use the Scientific Method to investigate the natural world. This feature is a good illustration of the how scientists formulate and test hypotheses.

More about The Scientific Method

Class Discussion

Establish Prior Knowledge

Before watching the video discuss with students the various methods scientists use to gather data they need to test their hypotheses, including: making observations in the field, performing laboratory experiments, and constructing computer models. Stress that there is more than one method to collect data and that often several methods are used. Point out that the data collected is compared to data from other sources. Scientists then look for patterns that show connections between important variables in the hypotheses they are testing.


Have students view the Feature and read the synopsis. Ask students to take notes while they are watching the video about the methods geologists in the feature use to analyze the data they've collected.

  • What area are the geologists in this feature studying?
  • What do they hope to learn?
  • Where do the geologists in the field find data from 36 million years ago?
  • From what sources did the geologists creating the computer model get their data?

Wrap Up

  • What do the geologists do when there are differences between scientific observations and the model's predictions?
  • A geologist stated that the model might never be 100% correct. Why do you think this is so?