Assignment Description: The course project is designed to focus on experimental design. As future scientists this project orients you to the process of experimental design. It entails designing an experiment using the Vernier instrumentation (gas pressure sensor). The results of the experiment are to be presented in a lab report format. The information in the experiment report should match the experiment design presented earlier. You will share your experiments and results with the class in the last forum of the class.
Instructions: For the course project you must perform, analyze and share and the results of an experiment of your own design. You have already turned in and received feedback on your experiment design. You need to carry out your experiment as designed incorporating feedback. With the data collected you will analyze your results and draw conclusions. Your information must then be submitted as a lab report. Directions on how to write a lab report are found below and in the attached Guidlines for Scientific Papers. You will need to fill out the self grading sheet as part of this assignment. Make sure you read through the grading rubric so that you understand all the information that is required. Your assignment will be automatically submitted to TurnItIn with your submission. Make sure you follow APA reference and citation technique.
How to Write An Experiment Report
Experiment or lab reports are an excellent way to practice scientific writing. Scientific writing is a style of writing that places a premium on clear, concise language. You should write efficiently and without excess verbiage. This means you want to avoid using more words when fewer will do.
Researchers must pay by the page to have their work published. They want to spend as little as possible on publication, saving more money to fund the actual research. By writing as efficiently as possible they can eliminate excess verbiage and decrease the cost of publication. You will practice this style of writing in your lab reports for the course project.
Lab reports for this course project will have the following style.
- Use 12 point font
- The report should be written in the 3rd person. Do not use personal pronouns (I, us, we).
Example written incorrectly in 1st person: I applied 5mL of water to each plant daily.
Example written correctly in 3rd person: 5ml of water was applied to each plant daily.
- Make sure to use the correct tense. If you are talking about something that has happened in the past, use past tense. Present tense can be used when referring to scientific principle such as “Meiosis involves two divisions.”
- Use APA formatted references and in text citations. Direct quotations should not be used in lab reports. Any information that is not common knowledge needs to be cited. When in doubt, cite it. Failure to cite information can be plagiarism. For more information on what constitutes plagiarism go here. If you need to review APA formatting for references and citations go here and scroll down to the bottom of the page (citation examples section).
- The experiment/lab report should be organized into the following sections: Title, Abstract, Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion, Literature Cited. Details about each section are found below and in the attached Guidelines to Scientific Papers resource.
The title of the experiment/lab report should be descriptive. It should state what you are studying and what variable was manipulated. It should be on a separate title page that includes the students name, course section and date.
The abstract is a one paragraph summary of the entire lab report. It should state the purpose of the study, what was done, what was found and what was concluded. Even though it goes at the beginning of the report, you should write this after you have completed the entire lab report.
The introduction section of the report should define the topic and explain its importance. It should share some background information related to the research that you used to help you design your experiment as well as state the research question and your hypothesis. It should me no longer than 1 page in length. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE IN TEXT CITATIONS HERE!(See Guidelines to Scientific Papers resource below for more details)
The methods section should explain how the experiment was conducted. It should not be a list or bullets but should be written in a narrative format. Include only the details that are necessary to replicate the experiment and should explain why the procedure was done. This section should be written in the past tense and should not discuss any results . You need to include a picture that includes your name, the date and your experiment set up in action in the methods section.
The results section should explain the results of the experiment without interpretation or comment. It should be used to summarize general trends. If multiple experiments were conducted each should have a separate paragraph explaining the results. Graphs and tables should be used if appropriate but not as a substitute for a written explanation. Make sure that graphs and tables have a description that would allow the reader to understand the graphic even if they could not see the graphic.
Example of incorrect table/graphic description: Table 1. Bacteria counts and water level for Blackwater River
Example of correct table/graphic description: Table 1. Bacteria counts and water level for Blackwater River in the summer of 2015. Bacteria were sampled using 3 point cross sections along a 10 mile stretch of the Blackwater River. Samples show that as water level decrease so do bacteria counts. During higher flow levels bacteria levels increase. The results the area sampled is impaired for contact recreational use.
The discussion section is where you interpret the results. You should also discuss the results in context of the overall experiment as identified in the introduction of the report. You should tell the reader why the data looks like it does and why it is important to know. Lastly you should discuss potential modifications for the experiment. What kind of changes would you make to this experiment to further knowledge of transpiration? This is not to correct mistakes but usually every experiment ends with more questions than you start with. How would you address those questions in future research?
Rubric: The grading rubric for this assignment is attached. Make sure to review the rubric so that you have all the required components.
1) Upload your lab report as a word document for grading.
2) Copy the self grading sheet and paste it into the text box as part of your submission. Do not attach it for submission.
The lab report will be checked for originality using Turnitin. Make sure you have proper citations and references for work that is not your own!
Instructions adapted from Steingraber S., Jolls, C., Goldberg, D (1985) Guidelines for Writing Scientific Papers. Michigan State University
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