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Thinking Like a Scientist: Answering the “Why” Questions

Do you have an inquisitive child? Do they explore the world around them? Do they amaze you with all the questions they have? Do they sometimes ask a few too many questions? Well here is a proven scientific method that will help you answer all those wonderful, inquisitive, yet sometimes draining, ‘why’ questions.

Asking ‘why’ is one of the most important questions scientists ask. It is actually the first step of the scientific method. All good scientists start by asking “Why does _____________ happen?” You can encourage your little scientist not just to ask why but, with your help, to answer their question by conducting an experiment. 

Download this free Scientist Log (PDF) to help you and your child organize your thoughts. Start by writing your question down. Then make an educated guess, also known as a hypothesis. A hypothesis is an “if/then” statement, such as “If you do _____, then ____will happen.” 

While you do your experiment, remember to collect your data and write down observations. At the end, finish it all up with your conclusion.

If you need some experiment suggestions, check out these great suggestions from the PBS show DragonflyTV. The next time your child gets on a roll asking why, pick one of her questions to answer like a scientist. Who knows? Your little questioner may be a future Einstein!

Is your child learning about the scientific method at school? Suggest that your child’s teacher sign the class up for a field trip to the Children’s Museum of Richmond! The Children’s Museum of Richmond offers a fabulous hands-on class that covers the scientific method. There is a volcano demonstration and then every child gets to help conduct a few experiments on their own! Of course, all museum field trips also include unlimited exploration of the museum too! Learn more at The Children’s Museum Richmond.

Does your child love PBS KIDS shows? Here are some suggested PBS KIDS shows that reinforce the scientific method:
Sid the Science Kid – Sid has all kinds of great games and videos you can watch to help with experiment inspiration.
SciGirls – Submit your experiment to the SciGirls website or be inspired by a project that someone else has done.
DragonflyTV – DragonflyTV has interesting and exciting episodes you can watch to learn more about science. There are also great games and experiment suggestions.

Article by The Children’s Museum of Richmond Educators