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Procedure

A procedure is a step-by-step set of directions for testing the hypothesis.

A complete stranger should be able to read your procedure and carry-out the experiment in the exact same way that you did your experiment.

A good procedure will look a lot like a recipe in a cookbook. Your procedure should:

  • start by listing all of the equipment and materials needed to do the experiment
  • list the steps in order (use numbered bullets or time order words like first, next, then)
  • be clear and precise
  • be as short as possible (don't be too wordy)
  • start each step with a verb

Here is an example of a BAD procedure for our lightning bug experiment:

Get a jar and some lightning bugs. Put the bugs in the jar. Count how many times the bugs flash in 5 minutes. Make the bugs hot by putting them near a heater. Count how many times they flash during the next 5 minutes. Record your results.

This procedure needs help!

How many bugs? What kind of jar? How big should the jar be? How hot should I make the air in the jar? How many times should I repeat the test?

It would also be easier to read if it was written with "bullets" instead of as a paragraph.

Here is an example of a fairly GOOD procedure:

Get the following materials and equipment:

  • thermometer
  • clear 1 qt glass jar with lid
  • timer
  • a dark room that you can adjust the air temperature
  • 10 recently captured lightning bug

Follow these steps:

  1. Place one bug in the jar
  2. Put the jar in a dark room that is 72 degrees F
  3. Record how many times the bug flashes in 5 minutes
  4. Lower the temperature in the room to 62 degrees F
  5. Record the number of bug flashes in 5 minutes
  6. Raise the room temperature to 82 degrees F
  7. Record the number of bug flashes in 5 minutes
  8. Repeat steps 1-7 with nine other bugs