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Writing a Scientific Lab Report The main purpose of a writing a scientific lab report is to: communicate the experimental results by describing data and procedures providing interpretations and conclusions of the data becoming a part of the accepted body of scientific knowledge when published (unless later disproved ). Lab reports are read by peers and experts in the field to review and learn of new findings for their own research and knowledge.
Nature of Lab Reports • Lab reports need to: • be clearly written • show a solid understanding of the subject matter • be fair, honest and neutral. The word to describe this is “unbiased”; this means that the experiment’s procedure, results and conclusions have not been changed or tested in a way that shows favoritism or partiality toward your hypothesis. • For example, if you are trying to find out if FWH middle school students like most of the lunch options the school offers and ask (poll) mostly students who never buy lunch, then your results will be biased. The results and experiment are unfair because they will show favoritism or partiality to those who don’t normally by lunch instead of those who normally do buy lunch and have actually tasted the food. • describe all sources of error
The report will include… • A cover page (including title) • Introduction (hypothesis, problem & science concepts) • Procedure (materials and procedure) • Results and Conclusions(data table(s), graph(s), interpretation of results, evaluation of hypothesis and conclusion) • Summary (practical applications, causes of experimental error, or specific lab improvements, questions for further research, answering original problem question) • Attachments • EDD • Conclusion questions
I. Introduction A. Purpose: Restate the scientific question to state the purpose of the experiment. (e.g. The purpose of this experiment was to determine if ……) B. Hypothesis: Write an if…then… statement that describes your prediction which includes IV and DV. Science Concepts: Define and explain the key science topics and vocabulary related to the lab. Relate the terms to the laboratory experiment. These concepts should demonstrate your understanding of the topic you have researched and experimented. Write in paragraph form.
II. Procedure • Include a separate list of materials. • Procedure: • List and numberthe steps you took to complete the experiment. • Use past tense • avoid personal pronouns(I, we, my, etc.). • It should be written so that anybody could repeat your experiment, as you have performed it (Give all necessary details; don’t leave out measurements, materials, units, etc.) • For example: Three 50 mL beakers were each filled with 25 mL of water. • Do not write: I filled three beakers with water.
III. Results and Conclusions--This is where you describe what you found out by doing the experiment. A. Graphs and Tables: Display the data table and graph(s). You may include the data table and graph here or write “see attached” and attach the data table and graph(s) to the end of the report.
III. Results and Conclusions--This is where you describe what you found out by doing the experiment. • B. Interpret Experimental Data: Report on the data and observations collected during the experiment. Make sure you include exact numbers from the data table. Interpret the data - What did your data indicate? • Start off by identifying the number of IV levels tested and the number of trials per level • Describe all of the data from all trials • Interpret the data—identify patterns or trends
Interpret Experimental Data For example: We tested three different backboard heights (10 feet, 15 feet, and 20 feet) three times each. The basketball shooter threw the basketball 10 times for each level and each trial. When shooting at the 10 foot backboard, the shooter earned 9 points in trial one, 8 points in trial 2 and 10 points in trial 3 for an average of 9 points. When shooting at the 15 foot backboard, the shooter earned 8 points in trial 1, 6 points in trial 2, and 7 points in trial 3, for an average of 7 points. When shooting at the 20 foot backboard, the shooter earned 5 points in trial 1, 4 points in trial 2 and 3 points in trial 3, for an average of 4 points. This data indicates that the height of the backboard does affect the number of shots that are scored. The data showed that more shots can be scored using the standard height backboard of 10 feet. Also, as the height increases the number of shots scored decreased.
III. Results and Conclusions--This is where you describe what you found out by doing the experiment. C. Evaluate Hypothesis and Draw Conclusions: Compare the experimental results to your prediction or hypothesis. Was your hypothesis correct? Why or why not? Write one or more sentences summarizing what you conclude from the data. What did you learn? Support your conclusion with evidence from the experiment
IV. Summary • A. Describe practical applications of the lab (how the lab is useful in the real world), • possible causes of experimental error • specific lab improvements you would recommend (describe any changes you feel you should or could make to this experiment in order to get more exact or better results. This could be anything from varying equipment and materials to changing parts of the procedure.) • and questions for further research. • B. Restate the science questionyou began with and answer the question in your own words using what you learned from the experiment.
Sources of error—I think _______________________ could have affected my results because__________________. Also, I think _____________ could have affected my results because ________________________. Applications—Knowing how ________________ effects ______________ I could ___(think about how the results could be used in real world)__ Lab improvements—If I were to do this again, I would _____________ Questions for further research—I want to know _____(the questions should be connected in some way to the experiment you performed)________ B. Restate and answer original question: For example, if the original problem question was: How does the height of the backboard effect the number shots which get in? You can restate it as: The height of the backboard does effect the number of shots which get in. As the backboard height increases, the number of scores decreases.
Sample summary . Summary Sources of Error—I can recall one source of error that may have affected my results. I gave the shooter a break between the 15 and 20 foot tests, but not in between the 10 and 15 foot tests. This may have impacted how well the shooter did during the 15 foot trials. Applications—Knowing that a taller backboard makes scoring more challenging, I think that the NBA should consider changing the standard height of the backboard a greater height. The reason for this is that in many professional basketball games, scores often exceed 75 points. I believe that the height of the backboard should be changed to provide a more challenging offensive game. Lab Improvements—If I were to do this again, I would probably change the levels of the IV to 10, 12, 14, 16, 18 and 20 to get more precise results. By reducing the testing level to two feet instead of five, I feel that it would provide more interesting and useful information. Questions for further research—As I performed this experiment, I wanted to know what kind of effect the distance between the foul line and the height of the hoop would have on the number of shots scored. I want to investigate the relationship between foul line distance and basketball height.