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Writing Formal Lab Reports in Chemistry

for fourth quarter we’re going to focus on working our way up to writing a formal lab report so this time your semester final will include again a lab portion and a test portion the lab portion will be writing a formal lab report so we’re going to focus on a bit at a time if you ever take a college science course whether it’s chemistry physics biology environmental science usually you have to write a formal lab report so it’s a very important skill to learn and scientific writing is very different than what we think of English writing a research paper so we’re going to talk about the different parts of the paper today your report will include a title page so your title page needs to include the title of your experiment your name the class your instructor the date that you conducted your experiment and the date that you submit your lab report needs to have a title on it and usually we want a very descriptive title so someone reads the title of your lab report they will know exactly what you were aiming to do with this lab we also want to make sure it’s brief so we aim between 10 words or less so basically a sentence as your title it needs to be descriptive it needs to include the main points of your experiment or investigation an example of a good title would be the effects of ultraviolet light on borax crystal growth right so we know specifically what your lab is about and what you are studying we usually try to take out words like the or a they’re really unnecessary so very brief but very descriptive the introduction section is basically the background information about your experiment what is some of the science behind your experiment what are you trying to study what does it look like and then it should end with the objective of the experiment or your hypothesis so you want to start out with the background information the science behind the experiment you should explain some of this chemistry some of the equations that you using some of the equipment that you use if it’s a special equipment so for the lab that we did last time this section may look like what is atomic emission spectrum how is light produced why do we get different colors when we burn them burn the substances in the flame so the science behind your experiment you should this section should be one to two paragraphs and it should end with answering two important questions the first question is what is the question or objective that your experiment is supposed to answer and why is this answering this question interesting or important and sometimes we also include here a hypothesis what do you expect the results to be in this experiment we want to make sure this section is in your own words you’re not copying directly or plagiarizing from a textbook or a journal so you need to cite sources if you use them you need to add enough information so that the person who reads your report has some understanding of what you’re going to be talking about what you’re going to be doing in the experiment the next section in your experiment is the procedure and this is a part we’re going to focus on today so your procedure should be in paragraph form it should not be a list of steps like step one bill the law step two bla bla it needs to read in paragraph form you need to be specific and list the correct equipment that you used so one hundred milliliter graduated cylinder a 250 milliliter beaker you may want to include any diagrams if you have a special apparatus that you use you want to give details and the amounts that you used so 2.5 4 grams was measured out you might want to even be more specific 2.5 4 grams of calcium carbonate was measured out want to include temperatures so the substance was heated to 25 degrees Celsius for 35 minutes so you want to be specific give your details specifically to what you did in the experiment even if it was slightly different than the lab procedure that you followed to do the experiment this is where you want to record what you specifically did so if you changed anything you want to make sure that you record what you specifically did you also want to write it so that anyone could read this experiment and duplicate your exact experiment and hopefully get out the exact results that you did so very specific as to what you used how much you used what did you use to do it the procedure needs to be written in past tense so substance such was added or was measured out okay you want to be in past tense because you’re writing your lab report after you’ve done the experiment we also do not want to use I me us we when we write the experiment procedure we want to take the person out of the experiment so two grams was added we don’t want to say I added two grams to grams was at take yourself out of the experiment the next section is the data analysis section so this is again written in paragraph form you want to include in this section observations that you made while doing the experiment you also want to include your data that you collected you should display your data in tables or charts you also might want to display it in graph form at the analysis section will also include your calculations that you made should always show at least one set of calculations and you should also show equations that you use to do those calculations this is purely a section where you list your results and describe those results in paragraph form you’re not going to draw conclusions on the results yet that’s the next section so you’re just purely listing the information you obtained in the experiment the last section of your lab report will be the conclusion so this is a written again in paragraph form statement kind of summarizing your result in giving some substance those results what do they mean okay why did you get those values what does it indicate okay you should also state whether your purpose was met was your hypothesis true was it false you should also give reasons for experimental error okay three experimental air sources of air are necessary human air measurement air equipment air is not are not really acceptable sources of air we should be competent enough not to have human air there’s enough air that would affect our results in the significant way measurement air you should all know how to do measurements correctly the equipment that you use should all be working correctly so those should not be listed as sources of air when you list your airs you should give reasons how it changes your results so this air happened this is how it affected our results you should also maybe in this section give suggestions for future experimentation so maybe something didn’t work out exactly how would you change it in the future or what would you do differently next time you did the experiment if we use any figures or tables we need to make sure we label them with a descriptive title so they have a caption um and we number our figures our table so that we can discuss them and refer back to them when we’re talking in a different section so the first figure we call it figure one second figure we call figure two first table we call Table one second table we call taper Table two figures will have a description below them tables get their description above them you should also refer to your figures and your tables when you’re writing in your paragraphs so you refer to the figure bytes number and you should refer to all of them in text somewhere in your paper an example of how this would look so is that last bullet point there so throughout his college life my brother’s favorite TV show was family got his favorite character on the show was Stewie the crazy infant son of the main character Peter Griffin figure one is a picture of Stewie Griffin so you would include somewhere in text a reference to the figure and you can see there the figure has a caption below it so figure one Stewie Griffin from Family Guy so a simple description of what the table what the figure is displaying whenever you use equations just like figures you need to reference them in text each equation should be separated out in its own line and we usually number equations on the right-hand side of your paper so you can see they’re an example of an equation and that equation has a number listed to it so in text we would say equation 1 is used to determine the current running through a circuit built in the experiment so that we can reference those equations and talk about those equations very last section of your paper should be your references so if you used any references or research or use someone else’s work you need to cite that in your paper when we cite in science we usually use the APA style format to cite when we’re citing in text we just simply put a superscripted number so you can see there in the example the ostrich is an omnivore due to its diet of both vegetation and insects and we use reference number one so we superscript a 1 so in your references you would have a list of all your sources that you used in numerical order in which they appear in your paper so the first source that we use we title it source 1 the second one that we use we call source 2 if we use 1 again somewhere in the paper we call it 1 as well there’s a link there below to help you if you’ve never used APA style format before citation machine you type in your numbers it gives you your citation but we need to use APA style format when we cite on our scientific paper the second sheet that was handed out to you was the rubric for your for no formal lab report this is how you’re going to be graded each report is 100 points the title page is ten points and so is your reference the other sections are all with 20 points and there are kind of five categories and how each section is graded distinguish you’ve met all those conditions advanced one of the conditions was not met proficient two or more conditions were not met now this three of the conditions were not met and no credit so none of the conditions were met lab reports that include plagiarism or any outside source or from fellow classmates and not credited will receive zero points so it needs to be in your own words so you are expected to work in groups in the lab but you should be doing your own thinking and your own writing when you’re writing your formal lab reports today we are going to focus on writing a good procedure so we’re going to write a procedure from the lab from less class period so the spectrum lab you need to make sure you write it in paragraph form in past tense not using any pronouns if you are not here for the last class I would still like you to write a procedure so just obtain a copy of the lab and write a procedure from that I would like you to write the procedure just how you did the lab in class okay not how necessarily we skipped a couple steps so write it how you did it in lab make sure you’re specific with what chemicals you used what tools you used make sure you use proper names on the screen here is an example of a good procedure that a student had written and they had written this procedure from the fusion of ice lab that we did a while ago so in a hundred milliliter graduated cylinder 100 milliliters of tap water were measured out and then placed into a Styrofoam cup the initial temperature the water was mustered and recorded using a thermometer a small handful of ice was then dried using a towel and added to the Styrofoam cup the ice was allowed to completely melt upon the completion of melting the final temperature was measured and recorded using a thermometer a graduated cylinder was then used to measure the total volume of cool water in the Styrofoam cup so here we can see it’s all past tense no pronouns are used explains exactly what the student did and if someone were to read this procedure they could probably do the experiment exactly like the student did it talks specifically about the equipment that the student used it gave specific amounts and gave really thorough instructions so go ahead write your procedure from the experiment from last class and then turn that in when you are finished

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