There are three primary axes of advance to become an amateur scientist. These are, in no particular order, education, experience, and meta-skills. They must be pursued simultaneously, at least to some degree.
Education is the process of learning the facts and methods of science.
Experience occurs through the use of the facts and methods of science.
Meta-skills are abilities that allow you to be effective in science.
I have identified several stages in scientific development: interest, the initiate, the practioner, the apprentice, the associate, and the master.
The interest stage is where I assume that you are right now; that is you are interested enough to come to this web site and look around.
The science enquirer is gaining a basic level of training and can join a project.
The science practioner has developed enough skill to be able to take on certain scientific tasks as part of a team.
The science investogator has developed far enough where an experienced scientist has agreed to train and guide them.
The science associate is a scientist in their own right, though they are not yet to the point where they can work without being supervised.
A science master is able to work independently, and to lead others in a group.
Here are the core ideas for each phase:
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