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Lab Report Format

Every teacher or science fair will ask you to use a slightly different lab report format.

This one provides a useful guide, and sometimes you will simply need to change the names of some sections. (For instance, the section called "Materials and Methods" is ofter called "Procedure.")

HOW TO WRITE A LAB REPORT

Question

Every lab report should start with the question that you are trying to answer.

Hypothesis

The hypothesis is a possible answer to the question. The lab is performed in order to test your hypothesis.

Materials and Methods

In this section you should list the materials used and how you did the lab. It should be very clear, so that somebody else could repeat the lab by simply following your directions.

The best way to learn to do this is by seeing how cookbooks do the same thing.

Results

In this section you should note any observations you make. Take special care to record anything unusual which may have affected your results. You will also record your data in this section. Sometimes you will use graphs and tables, sometimes you will make drawings, and other times you will record the results in words.

Conclusions

This is the most important section of the lab report!

It is your opportunity to discuss your experiment, and to show that you have thought deeply about it. Sometimes you can share all of your thoughts in a paragraph or two, ...

...sometimes you will need three or four pages.

Discuss the following:

1) Give a brief recap of your question and hypothesis.

2) Was your hypothesis correct?

3) What happened and why?

4) Were there any difficulties with the experiment? Is there any reason to disbelieve your results?

5) How could you improve the experiment?

6) Do these results suggest any follow-up experiments?

But, be careful. The lab report format is not a series of questions in a textbook. Use the questions to GUIDE YOUR THINKING. Don't just write a sentence about each question, and think you are done.

Writing a good lab report is an art, not a science. The best way to learn any art is to practice.

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