Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Environmental Science Lab Reports

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Environmental Science Lab Reports

Article excerpt

Experimental science would have reached a standstill long ago if experimenters hadn't kept precise laboratory reports. I demonstrate the importance of lab reports in my environmental science classes by helping students write reports that are clear, concise, and informative. Here are the directions I give them.

A laboratory report is a diary and presentation of lab work. The report should record what was observed, document any mistakes, and be thorough enough to enable another person to repeat your experiment. At the top of the first page, write the title, the date of the experiment, and the names of your lab partners.


In this section, explain the purpose of the experiment, give background information needed to understand it, and state your hypothesis when appropriate. Your hypothesis should follow logically from the information presented in your introduction.


Describe materials and methods in enough detail to enable other scientists to repeat the experiment without having to refer to other documents. Include critical experimental conditions (e.g., temperature, length of experiment, number of organisms) but not trivial information such as test tube size. Assume the reader already knows how to use any equipment, but report the settings you used. For instance, don't describe how to use a hot plate but do state the heat setting. You may write "Refer to lab handout" for your procedure only if you followed the procedure exactly as listed on the handout.


This section presents the data collected in your experiment. Include your observations and measurements. Present raw data first and then any important calculations. Write qualitative data, describing what you observed during the experiment, in complete sentences. …

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