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Examples of Observation

Observation is the process of watching someone or something. Often, observation is an informal action, but it can also be formal and involve data collection. An observation can also be the collected information itself.

Understanding Observations

In science, it is necessary to make observations in order to prove or disprove hypotheses using the scientific method, the process of hypothesizing, predicting, testing and concluding based on one’s observations.
While observation is most definitely used by all scientists, anyone can make an observation merely by watching.
Some examples of observation include:

  • A principal watching a teacher give a lesson to her class in order to judge her effectiveness as an educator
  • A scientist looking at a chemical reaction in an experiment
  • A doctor watching a patient after administering an injection
  • A parent watching her children interact with other children on the playground
  • An astronomer looking at the night sky and recording data regarding movement and brightness of the objects he sees
  • A zoologist watching lions in a den after prey is introduced to determine the swiftness of the animals’ response
  • Air flight controllers watching their monitors for airplane movements and locations
  • A child watching a fish in a tank
  • A chef watching his roast in the oven as it cooks
  • A fisherman watching his line for tautness indicating a fish has bitten the bait
  • A crabber watching his crab cages for activity indicating he has caught crabs
  • A meteorologist watching the Doppler radar as a storm approaches
  • A botanist recording daily data on plant growth after looking and measuring each day
  • A coach watching a group of athletes to choose which will join his team
  • A fan watching a baseball game
  • A chart showing data collected over a period of time
  • A written narrative of an employee’s performance
  • A doctor watching a patient’s reaction to medication
  • A psychologist watching a wife’s reaction to her husband’s confession
  • A daycare provider watching the children’s interaction
  • A baker watching her cake in the oven to ensure it rises and is cooked appropriately
  • A chef watching water come to the perfect boil before adding pasta
  • A little league coach watching children play to determine strengths and weaknesses
  • A producer watching actors perform a scene
  • A kennel operator watching dogs play together
  • An audience member watching a movie unfold on the big screen
  • A person sitting at a restaurant looking at the others around and people watching
  • A mechanic looking under the hood while the car is running to attempt to diagnose a problem
  • A teacher watching her students work during independent work time
  • An astronaut watching a chemical as they ascend to space in order to determine changes
  • A boss watching construction workers build a house in order to determine their effectiveness
  • A pit boss watching casino dealers and players to prevent theft or fraud

Some examples of tools used for scientific observation are:

  • Barometers
  • Rulers
  • Thermometers
  • Scales
  • Cameras
  • Tape Recorders
  • Video
  • MRI machines
  • X Ray machines
  • Clocks
  • Microscopes
  • Telescopes
  • Tape Measures
  • Binoculars

You likely engage in observation all the time and see many examples of observation in your daily life.

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