Ward's World Activity Guides

Keeping a Laboratory Notebook

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+ ward ' s science 5100 West Henrietta Road • PO Box 92912 • Rochester, New York 14692-9012 • p: 800 962-2660 • wardsci.com Find materials for this activity at wardsci.com. Discover more free activities at wardsworld.wardsci.com Section 3: DATA AND OBSERVATIONS • As you perform the experiment, be sure you write your raw data in your notebook as you go. Do not leave it to add later. You're likely to forget things after you've performed several steps. • If your work generates images or computer printouts, if they can be easily cut out you can tape them onto a notebook page. Alternately you may save them in a standard location and refer the file in your notebook. Section 4: CONCLUSIONS AND NEXT STEPS • Objective statements, questions to consider, references to previous experiments, and other commentary are all acceptable. • Not finished yet? Leave a Trail. – If you have an experiment that has an extended break in the middle, you may find that you need to use your lab notebook for other projects in the meantime, but you don't want to leave multiple pages blank for when you return to the original experiment. Follow these steps to make sure a future reader can follow your experiments. 0 At the bottom of your ongoing experiment, write "Continued on Page ___". 0 Then use the next page in the book to start your new experiment. 0 To resume work on your original experiment, start a new page and write "Continued from Page ___" and refer to the last page that contained data from this experiment. Section 5: PEER, SUPERVISOR, OR PROFESSOR REVIEW 0 Once your experiment is complete for the day, have someone else read through your notebook checking for understanding, to look for things missed, and test your logic. Why So Much Detail? • Months later, you want to be able to walk through your procedures to review your data, check for errors, or clues to why something worked the way it did. • You want to be sure you can repeat the experiment exactly the same way again without trying to guess what you did! So in addition to data generated by the experiment, also keep notes of things like: – Equipment used 0 How fast did you centrifuge those tubes? 0 What temperature was the water bath at? – Wait times / Incubation times / Heating times / Spin times, etc. – Show your work! 0 Write down your equations, dilutions and other calculations. The math may be simple at the time, but will you remember months later how you diluted your samples? Keeping a Laboratory Notebook (continued)

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