Menlo Physics: Guidelines for Lab Report

Our labs will fall into two categories: informal labs and formal lab reports. Informal reports are to be recorded only on handouts; they will require recording observations, compiling and analyzing data, and answering conclusion questions. Formal lab reports include all that plus a report.

Efficient use of lab time is critical - it is not a social hour!

General Lab Guidelines

Formal Report Guidelines

The format for your report is as follows:

1) Title of lab and date, your name and period, and lab partners’ names.

2) Prelab (not always included)
This section will be determined by the teacher. If provided in advance, you must read the lab protocol before coming to class. The prelab may be writing a flow chart or diagram of the directions, taking a quiz, or answering a set of questions. This is the only part of the report that does not need to be typed. If a handout is provided, attach pre-lab handout to BACK of lab report.

3) Abstract
This is a paragraph describing three things: what you're doing (like the purpose of your experiment), your hypothesis, a brief description of your experiment, and a summary of your results. Each of these topics is ONE or TWO sentences ONLY!

4) Procedure
Write a list of materials and a brief step-by-step procedure you will follow. These procedures should be in command form and should include equipment names - ie “use stopwatch to measure time for 10 oscillations of the pendulum”.Include any precautions necessary for success in data collection.

5) Results
This section should include a display of your data in table or chart form, or may include drawings from your observations. You should include a computer
graph of your data when applicable; you may wish to use Excel, Claris, or Graphical Analysis (available in science computer lab). IMPORTANT:
all graphs and tables require titles, labels, and units!. Tables and graphs should be included within the body of the report, BEFORE the discussion, not stapled onto the end of the report.

6) Sample calculations
If your lab involves any kind of calculation, you need to show one sample calculation for each type of calculation. Label what you are calculating; ie:

Calculation of density:
D = m/V
D = (1.00 g)/(2.00ml)
D = 0.05 g/ml

You must include units within the calculation as well as on the answer.

7) Discussion
Restate your results and interpret what they mean - what did you learn? Did your results make sense? Explain. Include a discussion of experimental error - what were your most likely sources of error? Be SPECIFIC - “human error” is not an acceptable answer! When applicable calculate the percent error (show calculation). Suggest specific improvements to make the lab more accurate. Answer any questions included in the lab handout as well. This should be in paragraph form.

8) Conclusion Questions
Answer all questions asked in the lab manual or handout.

REMEMBER: Neatness, organization, and substance count!