What to put in your lab notebook
- Start a table of contents on the first page of your notebook.
- If I can't read it, it must be wrong!
- If you can't read it, you'll have to do it again.
- Describe your work in enough detail
so that, three years from now, you could understand the experiment and
the result without having to repeat it.
- Each experiment should have four sections:
- Predict what you think will happen in the experiment.
Try to make a quantitative prediction.
- Apparatus: Describe how you built your experiment.
- Draw a block diagram or a wiring
Quality counts. Make your circuits neat, and use short wires.
- Where did you attach the meter?
Don't copy the theory from the textbook.
But do include formulas that you will need to refer to later.
You will not be penalized for use of the phrases "Oops,"
"I don't know," or "I haven't the slightest idea what's going on here."
Procedures and data: Take notes as you work.
- Work quickly.
- How certain are you of each measurement?
- Write data in a clearly-organized table.
- Draw pictures! Plot the data.
Describe problems you have, and what you do to fix them, so that
you can avoid them in the future.
If you find something weird, describe or sketch it, but resist
the temptation to spend hours exploring it.
If your lab is a total disaster:
- Label the axes.
- Write a concise title.
- Write a more detailed caption.
- Plots will be judged for clarity, not artistic quality.
- Try to do it by hand before using a computer.
Analysis and conclusions: One paragraph summarizing what you
- What measurements did you make to diagnose the problem?
- What did you do to try to fix it?
- What might have gone wrong?
- What else might have gone wrong?
- How could you test for this?
Write big. The grader has poor eyesight.
Be succinct. The grader dislikes superfluous adverbs.
Please write in your notebooks in ink. If you make a mistake, cross
it out with a single line. Knowing about your mistakes helps you gain experience
and helps the grader understand what you did.
Notebooks are due at the beginning of class.
If you will not attend class, put your notebook in the Section 1 mailbox
in Bridge before class starts.
- Was your prediction correct? If not, why not?
- Summarize any numerical results.
- Do your results agree with theory? It's OK if they don't.
- Do your
results seem reasonable to you?