Starting your Lab Notebook
Goal: To set up a lab notebook for use during this course
Lab work in science requires that you write down your observations as you make them. For this course, you will need to keep a lab notebook. This should be a permanently-bound spiral-bound notebook (not a 3-ring notebook) with graph paper sheets. Usually a 1/4" grid works well. To prepare your notebook:
- Use ink. Do not use pencil and do not erase entries. If you change your mind or make a mistake, cross out your entry but leave it legible; you may need to come back to it later.
- Label the front of the notebook with your name, the course, the subject area of investigation, and the start date of your work. When you have filled up the notebook, come back and put the end date on the cover as well. If you use more than one physical notebook, add a volume number that indicates the total of volumes in the series (Volume 1 of 3).
- Number each page, front and back, odd and even, in the upper outer corner.
- Leave 2-3 pages at the start for a table of contents.
- Start your first lab on the right hand page (if you are right handed) or the left hand page (if you are left-handed). Use this "procedures" side to record all your observations and measurements as you make them.
- Use the opposite side page for notes and corrections, or observations or thoughts you make after the fact, such as organizing tables of data.
- Start new labs on a new page, and be sure to include the goal or purpose of the lab, the date, and any critical conditions (such as temperature and humidity if they are likely to affect your process or its results).
- Do not leave gaps or whitespace. If you finish a lab exercise and have blank sections on a page, draw a line through the blank and date it to prevent additions later.
- Tape or staple computer-generate tables and graphs to the notebook; initial and date each one.
- If you are planning on asking for credit for AP Physics, make sure that your notebook reflects all of your work and can support your claim to performing all of the lab work for that credit.
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