Your OCSEF Project: How to Formulate a Question?

Good projects rely on hypothesis – both in science and engineering design. What is the key, then, to formulating winning hypothesis questions?  Mrs. Jelica Campos, a teacher at St. Bonaventure School in Orange County (and also an instructor at the OCSEF Academy) gives us the perfect step by step on how to do this. Spoiler alert: to her, it’s a combination of good data and a lot of trial and error.

When asked an example of how to propose the best hypothesis about “predicting which bridge will be the strongest?” Mrs. Campos said first you must ask yourself “which bridge will hold the most weight? That is your first question,” and then you need a title which will be “The Strongest Bridge.” Asking yourself for different alternatives will add to your depth in thinking and creativity when designing and implementing your hypothesis.

“After building various bridges such as arch, cable-stayed, suspension, or cantilever bridges (small-scale, of course), you must test each bridge at least 20x with various weights, recording it all on your data table!” Mrs. Campos. So now that we have tested our hypothesis and recorded all of our data, we have to write the conclusion.

“If your hypothesis was wrong, no worries,” she adds, “many students experience this. Just explain why it was wrong, do a research report by obtaining info from books or a scientific magazine, and try to avoid getting all information online!”