Lab Activity 1: Scientific Methods


The Mystery Box

There's More Than Meet the Eye


The scientific method involves a series of steps that help scientist solve problems and to better understand how the world operates. Learning how to solve problems and to think critically will be much more important in this class than simply memorizing facts.

As you saw in class today, there is something going on inside the mystery box. It appears to be magic… is it really? You can use the scientific method to help you come up with a plan for finding out how the strings are arranged inside the box.


Your job is to use the scientific method to come up with a sketch or model of how you think the strings are arranged or connected inside the mystery box. Remember that your final sketch or model must be supported by observations that you make and evidence that you obtain while performing experiments with your mystery box.

Your grade will not be based on whether you come with a correct solution. However, your grade will be based on whether or not you apply scientific method to logically and clearly solve the mystery.

Mystery Box used in class demonstration
Cardboard (rectangular box)

Analysis /Questions

  1. You solve problems each day as you decide what to wear to school, where to go on Friday night, or even what to eat for lunch. How do you solve these everyday problems? Discuss the similarities and difference among the scientific method and your own method of solving everyday problems
  2. Explain how and why you think scientific models will be important in the study of chemistry.
  3. What are the two main types of observations? What is the difference between these two types? Which types of observations did you use most during the activity? Give two example of each type of observation.
  4. Explain how an experiment can still be successful even when the original hypothesis is proved to be incorrect.
  5. Make a sketch of how you think the strings are connected inside the mystery box. How were you able to arrive at this conclusion?
  6. What problems/challenges did you encounter during this activity?

Mystery Box
Report Sheet

  • What is the problem?
  • Collect information and make observations.

Original Position

What Happened

Possible Model

Trial 1



. . .

Trial 2



. . .

Trial 3



. . .

Trial 4



. . .

Propose a hypothesis and sketch it here.

Build a model of your hypothesis and test it. Make observation and record data in a table you create.

Make a new hypothesis if necessary and repeat step 4 until your model acts like the Mystery Box and you are ready to draw a conclusion

Conclusion: How do you think the strings are arranged? (Please sketch) What evidence do you have to support your claim?

Remember to answer the analysis questions on a separate sheet of paper and staple to this page.