Science is the systematic study of nature and the physical universe, through observation and experimentation. Scientists are practitioners of science; they take an interest in the world around them, and they are curious about how and why things happen. This Science Portfolio features a series of science-related videos.
In their professions, scientists usually follow the Scientific Method to obtain answers to questions. The Scientific Method consists of six steps: asking a question, doing background research, forming a hypothesis, conducting an experiment, analyzing data and drawing a conclusion, and communicating results. Chemists and physicists use mathematics extensively in their work; biologists and ecologists frequently use statistics to compare and study data.
Many scientists work in laboratories. Indoor laboratories are furnished with microscopes, test tubes, Bunsen burners, fume hoods, and other types of lab equipment. Laboratory technicians are trained to follow precise safety procedures in their work. Other scientists work outdoors in the field. They may observe plant growth, wildlife habitats, or the changing weather.
Whatever type of work a scientist does, careful observation is a crucial skill. Whether experimenting in a lab or doing field studies, all relevant evidence must be observed closely and detailed notes must be taken so that the research is complete and accurate. Communication skills are also important for scientists, who must be able to share the results of their research effectively. By this means, the collective body of scientific knowledge is augmented.