The Nuts and Bolts of Writing a Lab Report

LAB REPORT

by Jennifer Swanson-

You have just finished your first science lab. Hooray!  Hopefully, it was exciting and allowed you to experience science in action. Did you make a solution that changed colors? Did you figure out how much energy is in a peanut? Or maybe you dropped objects off a high place and studied the effect of gravity. Whatever you did, you must now write up your findings.

All scientists write up reports of what they have studied. It is a way to show other scientists what they are doing. To make it easy to read and compare experiments, a specific method was used to organize every lab report.

Scientists use what is called the Scientific Method to relate their results.  The Scientific Method consists of five basic parts.

Scientific Method

1. Introduction – This paragraph includes:

  • Research on the project: Any type of information that you may have had to look up to understand the science that is being studied in this project.
  • Objective: What you will be testing in your experiment
  • Hypothesis:  What you think will happen in this experiment. (Don’t worry about guessing the correct answer, just put what you think. Scientists sometimes learn the most from experiments where their hypothesis was completely wrong.

2. Materials – A list of the exact materials you used. This is so that someone who wants to repeat your experiment knows what to have.

3. Procedure – A numbered step-by-step process of exactly what you did in your experiment. This is so that someone may repeat your experiment the same way you did.

4. Results – These are usually in the form of a labeled graph or chart of the measurements you collected. This may also include observations that you made while watching the experiment.

5. Conclusion—This is where you summarize what happened in your experiment, based on the data you gathered. Be sure to say whether your hypothesis was proved or disproved.

To understand exactly what teachers are looking for in their Lab Report, ask them to provide a teaching rubric. Or you can use this one found on the National Science Teacher Association website:  http://www.nsta.org/highschool/connections/201201LabReportRubric.pdf

Happy Science Writing!!

A Sample Lab Report (using an experiment involving gravity) 

Introduction: A few paragraphs on gravity, what it is, and how it works. (Be sure to cite your source here, too.)

Objective:  In this project I will be studying the effects of gravity on objects of different weight.

Hypothesis:  I believe that the object that the heavier objects will fall faster  than the light objects.

Materials:  1 baseball, 1 basketball, 1 soccer ball, 1 shot put, timer

Procedure: 

1. Go to a high place

2. Measure the distance from the top of the high place to the ground in inches or feet.

3. Have one person on the ground with the timer.

4. Have one person on the high place with the balls.

5. Drop 1 ball from the high place

6. Have the person on the ground record the time it took for the object to reach the ground.

7. Repeat steps 5 and 6 until all objects are used.

Data:

         Object  Weight (in pounds)  Distance traveled (in feet) Time to ground(in minutes and seconds) 
Baseball
Basketball
Soccer ball
Shot put

Conclusion:  According to my data, all the balls fell at the same rate. This proves/disproves my hypothesis. (Then stay why). 

Jennifer Swanson


Jennifer Swanson is a self-professed science geek and is always on the hunt to learn something new. Like any good scientist and author, Jennifer is rarely without a notebook and writes down her observations throughout the day. You can learn more about Jennifer HERE and at www.JenniferSwansonBooks.com.

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