Science Background Information:
How do scientists know what they know about the Earth system? Field projects are large-scale scientific research programs that bring many scientists together to make observations and collect measurements in order to answer a set of research questions. At the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, CO, scientists conduct field projects related to studies of weather, climate, and the atmosphere - some of NCAR’s field projects are highlighted in this classroom activity. During these field projects, which can range in duration from a few weeks to six months or more, scientists from many different research organizations and universities come together to study their hypotheses of given weather or climate phenomena. In order to gather the information they need to answer their questions, the scientists collect measurements via instruments, some of which can be mounted on research ships, research aircraft, and land-based vehicles.
These field projects represent steps 3 and 4 of the scientific process in action if deconstructed into the following steps:
- Identifying a problem
- Forming a hypothesis
- Designing and conducting research
- Collecting and analyzing data
- Formulating conclusions
The scientific process is iterative and often involves revisiting steps in the process as research continues. Scientists who participate in these field projects often contribute to steps 1, 2, and 5, which are outside of the scope of the field projects. See below for more resources about the process of science.