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In 1999 scientists
studying Costa Rica’s
Monteverde cloud forest
said they were seeing the
disappearance of the
Why was this occurring?
Scientists believe this is
one of the earliest
indicators of the effects of
an increase in
temperature due to
The theory is that global warming
caused the clouds to lift up higher and
higher off the mountains.
The frogs ran out of mountain, and
without the clouds, their environment
might have gotten too dry.
Increased pollution, and habitat
destruction may also play a role in the
What is Environmental
The scientist’s work in
Monteverde is just one
example of a relatively new
field: environmental science.
It involves the study of
how humans interact with
The environment is very complex and differs
dramatically from place to place.
How humans interact in these environments
greatly changes in various parts of the world
As a result environmental science is an
interdisciplinary science that involves many
fields of study in order to explore these
Many Fields of Study:
Ecology- is the study of how living things
interact with each other and with their
Ecology can help environmental scientists to
understand natural systems in equilibrium,
and as a result to see when the environment
is out of balance, and why this might be.
Chemistry helps environmental scientists to
understand the nature of pollutants.
Geology helps to model how pollutants travel
Botany and Zoology provide information
needed to preserve species.
Paleontology can help to understand how
Earth’s climate has changed in the past, and
can help us predict how future climate
changes could affect life on Earth.
Studying the environment also involves
studying human populations, so environmental
scientists may use information from the social
sciences such as economics, law, politics, and
Social sciences can help us answer questions
such as, How do cultural attitudes affect the
ways that people use the U.S. park system?
Or, How does human migration from rural to
urban areas affect the local environment?
It is important in all sciences to understand
the nature of science, and to practice
legitimate scientific methods.
Science is based in reason, and
experimentation. It is based on facts,
observable data, and or mathematical
theories, never just speculation (could begin
here but must move past this).
Good science must be something that others
can systematically recreate, and come up with
very similar data.
A Scientific Method is a process that
scientists use to explore, and try to answer
questions about our world.
Although the steps can be numbered in this
method, it is truly a cycle because a good
scientist must constantly be questioning the
process: retesting, and redesigning
experiments based on new questions and
experimental limitations etc.
# 1 - PROBLEM
Problem: the question which arises from
observations of the world.
Why is the sky blue?
#2 - Research
Research: What is already known about this
Scientific knowledge builds on previous
information, unless there is no information
about the question-most of the time there is
at least a small amount.
#3 - Hypothesis
Hypothesis: An educated guess based on the
research about the problem.
A hypothesis must be a statement, not a
question:“I think”, “I predict” or “My hypothesis
A hypothesis must include justification. It is a
guess that is backed up with some reasoning.
A hypothesis must be able to be tested
through an experiment.
#4 - Experiment
You must now test your hypothesis.
Create an experiment.
Instructions must be VERY clear/detailed.
Problem, hypothesis, materials, and step
by step procedures.
Make sure that anyone could follow your
instructions and perform the same
Elements of an experiment:
factors in an
Ex. Time and
A well designed
tests one variable.
All other variables
should stay the
In order to ensure that
the results of an
experiment were due to
the variable being tested,
scientists must run both
an experimental setup
and a control set up.
#5 – Data/Results
Write down your observations in detail.
These must be facts, never inferences!
Analyze the data from your experiment.
This often means making a data table and
Never adjust your data even if it doesn’t
match your original hypothesis!!!
#6 - Conclusion
Explain your results
Did your experiment support or reject your
“The hypothesis was correct/incorrect”
because…(always provide clear written reasoning
for your answer!)
It doesn’t mean you are a poor scientist if you
disprove your hypothesis!
Also consider problems with the experiment, new
questions that arise, and new experiments to test
Remember it is a cycle!
A good scientist will constantly be reflecting
about the process and keeping detailed
notebooks through the cycle.
They will consider how the experiment needs
to be adjusted, what new questions arise, or
if a more appropriate hypothesis might
explain the problem etc. etc. etc.
And Integrity is integral! Always report your
data. Never adjust what you have found!!!
A hypothesis is an educated guess as to why
something you observed is happening.
A scientific theory is an explanation that is
supported by a large amount of
If a theory can stand the test of time so that
other scientists can test it and do some
experimentation on their own and get the
same results every time, a theory can then
become a scientific law.