Understanding Inductive Science
- Using the inductive method of science, an investigator makes several specific observations to gather data. In the social sciences, this is done with a survey. In the natural sciences, scientists observe the behavior of matter or organisms. Repeated observations are made until enough data is gathered to make a generalization.
- If you decide to do a project involving the social sciences, you will most likely be taking a survey. Because scientists cannot ask a question of the entire human population, they survey a representative sample. Then a generalization is made, based on the data that was gathered. For example, exit polls on election day survey people leaving the voting booth. Statisticians then make a prediction based on those results. The more people that are surveyed, the more accurate the results will be. It is also important to survey random people, so your data is not biased in any way.
Social science projects can be tricky. It is important to demonstrate in your methods that you did your best to eliminate bias and to take a random sample. Popular social science topics include food or drink preferences, behavior and habits. The more relevant your topic, the more interesting your project will be.
- It is also possible to collect data for a science project in the natural sciences. Biologists routinely collect data about an organism's behavior and physiology. Chemists and physicists observe the behavior of matter, geologists observe changes in the earth. These tend to be long-term projects, while social science projects can be done over a shorter time period. Also, field research is often integral to these projects, making them poor choices for science projects. These topics are generally thesis or dissertation topics.
The Science Project
- Using the inductive method of science, a question is asked, a hypothesis is formed, then repeated observations are made. For example, "What are the alcohol consumption habits of high school seniors?" An investigator would take a random survey of many high school seniors, then report the results. From these results, an investigator hopes to be able to draw a conclusion and make a generalization for the entire population. However, a science project of this type should still follow the scientific method. If done properly, these projects can be just as impressive as science projects involving experimentation.