Making a Science Lab Notebook

This method of writing up an experiment has been used in colleges for years and gives the student practice in valuable communication skills.  When I teach science, I ask my students to get a black and white speckled composition type notebook with graph paper in it.  The instructions below apply to any lab science course for completing a science notebook.  You may also record your data in your science notebook, but keep it separate (perhaps in a few preceding pages) from the below information, which is a summary of the scientific method as it pertains to your experiment. 

  1. On the first page of the notebook, write your name, course title, and year.  
  2. On the next page, write “Table of Contents” at the top of the page.
  3. Number the pages of the notebook in the bottom outside corners.
  4. As you complete experiments, record on the Table of Contents page the title of the experiment and the page upon which it is found.
  5. Skipping two pages after the Table of Contents, begin with Experiment One
  6. On the left hand page, write the title of the experiment, the date, and the problem or question you are attempting to solve.  
  7. Next, spell out your hypothesis of what might happen.
  8. Include a list of materials.
  9. List the procedures in the experiment.  Reference your lab manual.
  10. The observations step is next; write details of the experiment including everything you noticed about what happened.  
  11. The last step is the conclusion.  This is where you will try to answer the question “why did the experiment happen the way it did?  I like to see complete conclusions.  
  12. Some lab experiments require additional steps like calculations, or results, or sources of error.  
  13. The signature at the bottom of the page certifies that you truly did all of the above yourself.  
  14. If there are any questions about the experiment required by the lab manual, I have the student write the answers to those questions after the conclusion step.  
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