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Keeping a Laboratory Notebook

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Keeping a Laboratory Notebook + ward ' s science Recommended Grade Level(s): Appropriate for: Advanced high school and beyond Teaching Topics & Concepts: • A neat and orderly laboratory notebook is one of the most overlooked tools a scientist has. It holds a snap-shot of the work as you're performing it, and can act as a permanent record for future reference. • Keeping notes consistently and accurately will allow a colleague to follow your experiment step-by-step and recreate it as closely as possible. Reproducibility of results is extremely important in science, and is extremely difficult without an accurate road-map. Materials: • A hard-bound notebook. – Ideally one with numbered pages, and from which pages cannot be easily removed. – Spiral bound notebooks are not recommended, as pages can easily be removed. • A permanent writing instrument – Ballpoint pens, using blue or black ink for primary notes. Colored ink or highlighter may be used sparingly for special emphasis. Pencil, erasable ink or correction fluid should never be used. Background Laboratory notebooks are an organized way for students to keep track of their processes for investigations and inquiry-based experi- ments. Students learn to capture important details about an activity, including reasons behind certain changes, specific observations, solutions to problems encountered, and data collected. Important Notes: • Cross out any errors with a single line. All errors should be clearly invalidated, but still legible. • Do not leave blank pages. Similarly, if you only use part of a page, draw a diagonal line through the remaining space so it's clear that it is intended to be blank. • If someone worked on an experiment alongside you, each participant should keep their own notes. Each participant's notes should refer to each other's notebooks. – Someone interested in reviewing the experiment should be able to review the notebooks of all scientists involved, to get the most complete picture. Table of Contents: • Save the first few pages for use as a table of contents. This will make it easy to find individual experiments later once the book gets full. Each experiment should have the following sections: Section 1: EXPERIMENTAL PURPOSE / OBJECTIVE • What are you trying to understand, prove or demonstrate? – Do you have a theory as to what will happen? If so, you can note it here as well. Section 2: EXPERIMENTAL PROCEDURE • Before starting your experiment, write out the complete procedure you're about to perform. Be detailed and clear. Don't be afraid to list steps using bullet-points for clarity. – As you write out the procedure, consider including tables to organize the data to come. – Lay out your reagents before you start and make note of them. 0 Remember to record lot numbers, expiration dates, and full names of your reagents. Some single-use reagents even have removable labels that are intended to be transferred into your notebook.

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