Lab Report Format

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Lab Report Format

Physics Lab

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Physics 2011-2012

Mrs. Wilkinson

In addition to the coursework, students will be required to complete laboratory activities to meet the NYS

laboratory requirement. This will be comprised of approximately thirty experiments requiring formal lab

reports. Completed lab reports will be kept on file in the Physics Classroom.

These labs require that students come prepared. Students are expected to prepare as much as possible

before you come to the lab. Pre-lab activities and data tables should be complete when possible. The

instructor and your classmates are not responsible for compensating for your lack of preparation. Generally,

lab time will be dedicated to collecting and analyzing data. Goofing off, coming unprepared, or coming late

are all good ways to lose lab time. Since deadlines are a major part of the real world, this course will also

reflect their importance. Labs are expected on the due date and due dates will include time to prepare the lab

reports on your own. Late labs will be accepted until one week past the due date, but at 50% loss of points.

No lab may be skipped or dropped without the consent of the teacher. Extenuating circumstances do

sometimes exist, but must be discussed amongst the teacher, student, and often the parents.

Labs are to be written as formal documents, free from spelling and grammatical errors, and presented in a

professional form. Finished reports must be handed in to the teacher directly. Word processed reports are

expected. The finished report is to be professional (both in appearance and content), your original work, and

represents your best effort.

The Lab Report

Cover Sheet (See sample on Page 4)

The cover sheet of the lab report should include the student’s name, the date(s) the experiment was

performed, the due date, the lab name, and the group members’ names.

The cover sheet should also include the conclusion. This will be a summary of the activity and results,

including answers to any questions asked in the lab exercise. At no time is a report to conclude that a

particular relationship was PROVEN correct. At this level, the lab experiments will generate results that

SUPPORT the theory or relationship. Numeric evidence of having accomplished the objective is to appear in

this section. Error analysis, percent difference specifically, is to be shown whenever appropriate. Also,

indicate possible sources of error if the error is larger than 10%. Equipment inadequacies are not acceptable

error sources. Human error is also not acceptable, because if there is that much error, the student should go

back and redo that section/set of data.

NO PERSONAL PRONOUNS ARE ACCEPTABLE IN THE REPORT…..EVER!!! Leave out all we, I, our, and my in the

lab report. Students are expected to express results in an impersonal manner.


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First and Subsequent Pages of the Report

I. Introduction

a. In a sentence or two, explain the purpose of the lab experiment. The objective should be

clearly identified and be specific to the actual task. Clear outcomes of the lab need to be

identified. The words “study” or “observe” must not appear in this section.

b. Include any diagrams or equations that will be necessary for a simple understanding of the lab

experiment. ie., electrical diagrams, free body diagrams, etc.

c. Example: “The intent of this experiment is to verify Newton’s Second Law of Motion. This will

be accomplished through the use of an inclined plane and various materials to move on it.”

II.

III.

IV.

Equipment

a. The equipment used should be presented in a list format. Do not include pens, pencils,

calculators unless a specific program such as sensors is being used. Also do not include

computer for typing the lab since it is expected that all lab reports will be typed.

Data

a. This section is to contain actual recorded measurements and/or observations from the

experiment. It is not to contain any calculations nor is it to contain any results from a

calculation. It is expected that this section is in table form. If a table is not provided, it is the

responsibility of the student to prepare a data table.

Results and Graphs

a. This section is to contain a statement of results, usually in the form of a table of values. The

result of any necessary calculation is to appear in an organized fashion within this section. The

answers that are placed here are generally numeric. Save text remarks for the conclusion. Do

not show mathematical solutions here.

b. Often it is necessary to construct graphs in order to better understand the relationship between

physical quantities. Graph scales should be consistent throughout an axis unless specifically

instructed otherwise (such as a logarithmic graph). For hand drawn graphs, data points should

be carefully plotted and then circled by small circles known as “point protectors”. Most graphs

will be made in Microsoft Excel.

c. Check with the instructor before generating graphs using a computer, as some graph purposes

are better served by hand graphs. Also, in the interest of getting students used to preparing lab

reports digitally, each person is allowed to make a graph for their report only. No duplicates

may be distributed in the lab group or otherwise.


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V. Sample Calculations

a. This is the section for you to explain and demonstrate the mathematics of the lab. Any

equation used in the lab should have a sample calculation completed in this section such that

your proficiency in the use of the equation is demonstrated. Use actual data from the lab in

demonstration of the equations. One sample of each equation is adequate. The format for

equation solution is given below and is to be adhered to whenever an equation is to be solved.

b. When using Microsoft Word, Insert: Equation will be very useful when entering sample

calculations into your lab report.

c. Steps for solving problems:

i. List the known quantities with units

ii. Identify the unknown quantity

iii. List the equation or equations needed

iv. Substitute into the equation WITH UNITS

v. Present final answer WITH UNITS

vi. Box in final answer

Plagiarize – to steal (or borrow) and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one’s own.

Any form of plagiarism is prohibited, as is illegal. The content of the reports are to be free of plagiarized

material. It is expected that people working together in a lab group will have similar data tables and graphs,

however, analysis and concluding paragraphs MUST be in the author’s words only.


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Sample Cover Sheet

Newton’s Second Law

Joe Student

Experiment Completed: October 3-5, 2011

Due Date: October 9, 2011

Partners: Susie Smith, Bobby Thomas

Conclusion:

The position of a system of two masses was recorded as a function of time using a spark-timer apparatus.

Using these data the instantaneous velocity was approximated by calculating the average velocity over 1/30

second time intervals. The acceleration of the system, which was calculated from the slope of a graph of

velocity versus time, was 59.1 ± 1.5 cm/s2. The value of the acceleration predicted using Newton’s Second Law

was 60.9 ± 0.1 cm/s2. The discrepancy between these two values for the acceleration of the mass was only

3%.

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