Have you ever heard your Alpha Omega Academy® (AOA) student say, "I don't mind the experiment, but I really don't know what to put in the lab report"? If so, then here are some effective strategies to help your distance learning student successfully write a science lab report:
The most important thing to do before starting a science experiment is to define the problem. Figure out what you are looking for or the purpose of the procedure. If you don't do this step, it would be like following a kitchen recipe without knowing what you are making.
Once you know the purpose, it is time to write the hypothesis. AOA prefers the "If/Then" format. The "if" part identifies the factor you are testing, while the "then" portion says what you expect to happen. In other words, "if we do this, then here's what will happen." For example, if students get adequate rest, then their grades will improve. The hypothesis doesn't have to be correct, but it does have to be testable.
After completing the above preparation, follow the directions below to conduct the experiment, gather data, interpret results, and draw conclusions. When writing the report, you must complete all five sections of the template.
(Note: Because many AOA students and parents have asked questions about the "Fungi Experiment" from Alpha Omega Academy's Biology course, further explanations and examples from that experiment are included in italics as an additional guide for a correctly written science lab report).
1. Fill in the hypothesis section before the experiment.
There are three types of fungi: yeasts, molds, and mildews. The point is for students to observe a minimum of four specimens that should include at least one of each of those groups. They are expected to take note of the similarities and differences of these three types of organisms in structure and the type of reproductive structure. For example, is the structure budding or spores? If it is spores, there should be an observable difference in the shape of the spores and spore cases.
A possible hypothesis could be as simple as, "If we observe different types of fungi, then we will see different forms of reproduction."
2. Write the procedure section in the first person, past tense. You should write the procedure as if it was a set of directions for another person to correctly perform the entire experiment.
I mixed up a fresh batch of baker's yeast and cultured other molds on breads, fruits, and cheeses. In addition, I found a source of mildew from leaves.
3. Complete the data section by including all of your observations, including measurements with the correct units.
Record as data all the colors, shapes, and characteristics you see with the naked eye and the microscope.
4. List questions about your observations or values that need to be calculated in the calculations/interpretations section. Be sure to give complete answers to these questions.
5. Compare your results to your hypothesis in the conclusions section. You must mention your hypothesis in your conclusion, showing examples from your data to support the meaning you give to those results. In the conclusions section, compare what you saw with what you expected to see and explain any differences. Also, be sure to mention whether your hypothesis was correct or incorrect.