• How to Write a Lab Report
     
    Use the frame below to guide you as you write each lab report. Some of our lab reports will vary some, but this is the basic flow of a scientific investigation and it is the format for your lab reports.
     
    Here's the simple version first:
     
    Background - Write what you already know.
    Question - What question will your experiment answer?
    Hypothesis - Write what you expect the answer to be and explain your reasoning.
    Materials - List the specific materials you will use to do your experiment.
    Procedure - Write out how to do the experiment step by step.
    Data - Keep a record of your observations/measurements.
    Conclusion - Use your data and your logic to answer the question. Was your hypothesis correct? Give a scientific explanation for what you observed. 
     
     
    And here's the detailed version:
     
    Background
           The background section is where you write what you already know about your topic that might be related to your experiment (before you do it). Focus on information that will help you and others understand your results.
     
     Question
             In this section, type the question you are trying to answer or the problem you are trying to solve.
     
    Hypothesis
             Our hypothesis is what we predict the answer to our question will be. In a good hypothesis, we explain what we think the scientific rule is, and what results we should get if that rule is true. Ex: If all living things have DNA (That's the rule.), and peas are living things, peas should have DNA, and we should be able to find it using DNA extraction (Those are the results we should get.). 
     
    Materials
             Make a bulleted list of the materials you will use. Be sure to give details like quantity and size. Those details might be important to your experiment.
    Ex:

    Don’t write:

    • beakers
    • water
    • string

            Instead write:

     

    • 3 400 mL plastic beaker
    • 60 mL tap water
    • 50 cm kite string

     

    Procedure

          Give detailed, step by step instructions. This allows other scientists to determine if your methods are sound and to repeat your experiment to see if they get the same results.
     
    Data
          As you make your observations, record your observations in this section. Those observations may be descriptions, measurements, diagrams, photos, or drawings. What kind of data you collect will depend on your experiment.

          You may want to use two or more of the items below, depending on your particular experiment.

    Data Table
    A data table is a good tool for organizing measurements or counts.

    Graph
    After you have all your measurements collected in a data table, make your data easier to analyze and communicate by making a graph.

    Detailed description
    If you are collecting qualitative data, such as describing an animal’s behavior, be sure to give as much detail as possible.

    Labeled Diagram or Photograph
    A picture’s worth a thousand words. If you draw, be sure to draw exactly what you see with as much detail as you can include. Always label accurately and carefully.

          When you are done collecting data, analyze it to see if you an answer the question you asked at the beginning of the experiment. Look for patterns and trends.

          Your analysis should explain what your data means. What patterns do you see? (Here are some sample sentence frames you might use. Don't try to use them all, just choose what makes sense for your data, or write your own.

     

    • As __________ increases, ___________ also increases.
    • As ___________ decreases, …
    • The average size …
    • The average time …
    • My graph shows that … (describe the trend or key information)
    • In the picture, you can see … (describe key details visible)

     

     Conclusion
           The main thing here is to answer the question, give evidence from your data, and explain your observations scientifically. Here are 5 key things you should include in your conclusion. Remember, don't try to use all the sentence frames; just choose one from each section that makes sense for your specific report or write your own.
    1.  Restate your hypothesis.

      I predicted __________________ because ...
      I expected ___________________ because ...
      At first I thought _____________, ­but ...

    2. Transition and answer the question.

      If your data support your hypothesis:

      ·         My data show that this is true.
      ·        ... , which is, in fact what happened.
      ·         ... , and the experiment proved it was true.

      If your data do NOT support your hypothesis:

      ·        ... ;  instead I found ____________.
      ·         ... , but my data showed _________.
      ·         However, my data showed ________.

    3. Support your answer with data. Explain any relevant patterns or trends you found.

    4. Give a scientific explanation for the results that you got. 

    5. Give ideas for further research. This could be new questions this brought up that you or someone else could research in the future, or it could be ideas on how to improve this experiment.

      ·         If I were going to do this experiment again, I would __________ because. (What would you do differently?)
      ·         This experiment still hasn't answered the question ... (write a genuine question that is related to this experiment that could be answered with a new experiment.)
      ·         In the future, I might try ...