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Lab skills

Use 1″ margins, and a font such as Arial or Times New Roman, 12 point. Text must be double-spaced.

1. Title Page

* A descriptive and informative title for the experiment

* Your name in full.

* Teacher name

* Date

2. Introduction

Why are you doing this experiment? What skills will you develop? When applicable, the hypothesis should be clearly stated. When applicable, identify what will be your experiment group and control group, and your dependent and independent variable.

The hypothesis is the objective of the experiment

3. Materials

* List in bullet form

* kind of like this

* all the materials and equipment needed 🙂

4. Procedure

A step-by-step description of the procedure, in full sentences. Write clearly enough so that another student could follow it and do the lab themselves.

When applicable, describe setting up an experiment group and control group, and how you measured your dependent and independent variable.

Do this in outline form:

I. Title of first procedure




II. Title of second procedure (if there was more than one procedure)




Diagrams: Draw a diagram showing the apparatus (“experimental setup.”) Clearly label each part. Draw carefully: use a ruler or compass as needed. You may use a computer drawing program, or use color pencils. You may not use markers or crayons. However, you will not draw a diagram for interactive virtual labs done on a computer.

5. Data analysis (calculations)

Show how your data and equations generate your results. Show the necessary algebraic equation, and give one example of how each equation is used.

For example, to determine the density of an object, you’d use the density equation.

Mass = 50 grams volume = 150 cm 3

density = mass / volume d = m / v d = 50 g / 150 cm 3 = 0.33 g / cm 3

When putting numbers into formulas, use the proper units.
density calculation

6. Data presentation (tables, graphs)

Your raw data: actual observations, drawings, measured values.

Some data is best presented in a data table. All tables should have descriptive titles, and proper units.
Sample data table

Some data is best presented in a graph.

It may be drawn on graph paper or done on a computer. Hand drawn graphs must be drawn carefully, using colors, rulers, and protractors where appropriate.

Label your axes appropriately. Show which quantity each axis represents, and which unit the quantity is measured in.

If different sets of data appear on the same graph then distinguish between these data sets. For example: one set of data as circles ( o ),  another as crosses ( x ), a third as boxes ( □ ), a fourth as diamonds ( ♢ ).

Many people graph each data set in a different color. This can be done by hand with color pencils, or on a color computer. The goal is to make your graph easy to read and interpret.

All graphs should have descriptive titles, and proper units.

Graphing data seeds plant

7. Conclusion: Analysis of results

Answer any questions in full sentences. If asked a Yes or No question, give not only the answer, but a reason for your answer. What did you discover? How does it relate to the objective of the experiment (or to your hypothesis?)

Writing a lab report: State Standards

New York City Science Standards

Students will use mathematical analysis, scientific inquiry, and engineering design, as appropriate, to pose questions, seek answers, and develop solutions. Science relies on logic and creativity. Science is both a body of knowledge and a way of knowing. Science is an intellectual and social process that applies human intelligence to explaining how the world works. Scientific explanations are developed using both observations (evidence) and what people already know about the world (scientific knowledge).

All scientific explanations are tentative and subject to change. Good science involves questioning, observing and inferring, experimenting, finding evidence, collecting and organizing data, drawing valid conclusions, and undergoing peer review. Understanding the scientific view of the natural world is an essential part of personal, societal, and ethical decision making. Scientific literacy involves internalizing the scientific critical attitude so that it can be applied in everyday life, particularly in relation to health, commercial, and technological claims. Also see Laboratory Checklist in Appendix A.

Key Idea 1: The central purpose of scientific inquiry is to develop explanations of natural phenomena in a continuing and creative process.

STANDARD 2—Information Systems. Students will access, generate, process, and transfer information, using appropriate technologies

1.2 Use spreadsheets and database software to collect, process, display, and analyze information. Students access needed information from electronic databases and on-line telecommunication services.
1.3 Systematically obtain accurate and relevant information pertaining to a particular topic from a range of sources, including local and national media, libraries, museums, governmental agencies, industries, and individuals.
1.4 collect data from probes to measure events and phenomena.
1.4a collect the data, using the appropriate, available tool
1.4b organize the data
1.4c use the collected data to communicate a scientific concept

• Follows safety rules in the laboratory
• Selects and uses correct instruments
• Uses graduated cylinders to measure volume
• Uses metric ruler to measure length
• Uses thermometer to measure temperature
• Uses triple-beam or electronic balance to measure mass
• Uses a compound microscope/stereoscope effectively to see specimens clearly, using different magnifications
• Identifies and compares parts of a variety of cells
• Compares relative sizes of cells and organelles
• Prepares wet-mount slides and uses appropriate staining techniques
• Designs and uses dichotomous keys to identify specimens
• Makes observations of biological processes
• Dissects plant and/or animal specimens to expose and identify internal structures
• Follows directions to correctly use and interpret chemical indicators
• Uses chromatography and/or electrophoresis to separate molecules
• Designs and carries out a controlled, scientific experiment based on biological processes
• States an appropriate hypothesis
• Differentiates between independent and dependent variables
• Identifies the control group and/or controlled variables
• Collects, organizes, and analyzes data, using a computer and/or other laboratory equipment
• Organizes data through the use of data tables and graphs
• Analyzes results from observations/expressed data
• Formulates an appropriate conclusion or generalization from the results of an experiment
• Recognizes assumptions and limitations of the experiment

Learning Standards

2016 Massachusetts Science and Technology/Engineering Standards

Overview of Science and Engineering Practices: Plan and conduct an investigation, including deciding on the types, amount, and accuracy of data needed to produce reliable measurements, and consider limitations on the precision of the data.

Science and Technology/Engineering Laboratories:  STE curricula should give students regular opportunities to develop distinct science and engineering practices and occasional opportunities to apply those together as a collective set of practices. A defined number of minutes, or an extra course period, can be used for—but is not the critical feature of—a lab definition. “Laboratory science” does not have to be in a laboratory; effective STE learning also occurs through field work, in a sufficiently supplied traditional classroom, through project-based experiences, in well-designed virtual courses, and in other learning environments (e.g., out of school time, see Appendix X). America’s Lab Report (NRC, 2006), which reviewed research and best practices across the country, supports these perspectives.

2006 Massachusetts Science and Technology/Engineering Curriculum Framework

Inquiry, Experimentation, and Design in the Classroom

SIS2. Design and conduct scientific investigations. Properly use instruments, equipment, and materials (e.g., scales, probeware, meter sticks, microscopes, computers) including set-up, calibration (if required), technique, maintenance, and storage.

SIS2. Design and conduct scientific investigations.
• Articulate and explain the major concepts being investigated and the purpose of an investigation.
• Select required materials, equipment, and conditions for conducting an experiment.
• Identify independent and dependent variables.
• Write procedures that are clear and replicable.
• Employ appropriate methods for accurately and consistently
o making observations
o making and recording measurements at appropriate levels of precision
o collecting data or evidence in an organized way
• Properly use instruments, equipment, and materials (e.g., scales, probeware, meter sticks, microscopes, computers) including set-up, calibration (if required), technique, maintenance, and storage.
• Follow safety guidelines.

External links



Ask a Question Research Hypothesis flowchart

Why do we need to clearly explain things in a lab report?

The below dialogue is assumed public domain. The original author is unknown.

Teacher: What went on in this lab?

Student: What do you mean?

Teacher: What did you do in this lab?

Student: Lab 3.

Teacher: And what did you do in lab 3?

Student: We measured the result.

Teacher: Assume I’ve never seen this lab before, and you’re going to explain it to me. What would you say?

Student: [pause] Well, it was all about getting the slope.

Teacher: The slope of what?

Student: The slope of the plot.

Teacher: I know that, but you have to assume I’ve never heard of this lab, ok? How would you explain what you did?

Student: We got the wires and measured at each point.

Teacher: Measured what?

Student: What the meter said.

Teacher: [pause] Look. Your report tells me nothing; this could be an experiment about baking cakes. What’s this number here?

Student: 5.

Teacher: Yes I KNOW it’s 5. What did it measure?

Student: The slope of the line.

Teacher: What line?

Student: The line on the plot. We measured the points and plotted them.

Teacher: Why?

Student: [knowing smile] Because that’s what the lab said!

Teacher: If I was a total stranger, how would you explain this to me?

Student: You just connect it up.

Teacher: Connect WHAT up?

Student: The circuit.

Teacher: Why?

Student: I’m sorry, I don’t know what you’re asking.

Teacher: I’m asking: what is this lab all about?

Student: Well, we put in the wires and got 5.

Teacher: 5 what?

Student: The slope.

Teacher: WHAT was the slope?

Student: 5.

Teacher: I KNOW that, but what was it a measurement of?

Student: The meter.

Teacher: [sigh] One more time — consider me a total stranger. How would you explain this to me?

Student: You just put on the wires and vary the dial until you get the readings.

Teacher: What dial?

Student: On the power supply.

Teacher: Why was there a power supply?

Student: Well, for the circuit.

Teacher: And what readings are you talking about?

Student: The readings in the plot.

Teacher: They gave you a plot in the lab manual?

Student: I’m sorry, I don’t know what you’re asking.

Teacher: Where did the plot come from?

Student: We drew it.

Teacher: From what?

Student: From the experiment.

Teacher: The experiment about what?

Student: About lab 3.

Teacher: […expires]


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