Section 3: Scientific Research and Tools

Science is a way of gathering information and analyzing data about the world around us.  It is based on observations which is the process of gathering information about processes or events in an orderly way.  Scientists use evidence to provide possible explanations for something.  That evidence is called data which is the information gathered from those observations.  Scientists draw upon inferences which are logical interpretations based on prior knowledge, experience, and collected data.  This can lead to a hypothesis or a guess for observations that can be tested.

There are two main scientific research types: quantitative and qualitative. Quantitative research is research in which the data collected is numerical.  Thermometers, balances, and stopwatches are all tools that can collect this type of data.  Qualitative research is descriptive, and research is based on observations.  Binoculars, cameras, and a tape recorder can also present this type of data.

The standard measurement system used by scientists worldwide is known as the International System of Units (SI).  SI units are easy to use because this metric system is a decimal system of units based on a scale of multiples of ten.  Each unit is ten times larger than the next smallest unit and one-tenth the size of the next largest unit.

A microscope is a device that produces magnified images of structures that are too small to be seen with the naked eye.  A compound microscope allows light to pass through a specimen and uses two lenses to form an image.  An electron microscope uses beams of electrons rather than light to form an image.  As a result, it is 1000x more detailed than a light microscope.

Compound Microscope


  1. What is an inference?
  2. Compare quantitative and qualitative research.
  3. What is a compound microscope?

Click here to go back to the Table of Contents