How To Write Better Lab Reports

With the first lab reports there will be a lot of mistakes.  That’s okay.  Learn from your errors, correct them if necessary, and don’t make the same mistake again next time.
I point out lots of boo-boos, with sad faces, and even some X’s, but not too many “-1’s”. If you want high grades you’ll have to earn them from here on out.
Here goes…

Your cover page must be on the front (hence the name, cover page).

Your papers can NOT have frills from spiral notebooks. If you hand them in that way again, I will not take them.

A real title must be on the top, your name and class period must be on the cover page as well. If you READ THE RUBRIC you will see you are also supposed to write an intro sentence on the cover page, for a point.

Many of you will put pages out of order. I have to read more than 90 lab reports; the correct order of pages helps keep me sane (and shows you are reading directions).

Many of your math problems will be devoid of units. Units matter. It’s a chem class. No units means that you don’t care, or don’t know. Either or both will result in some “-1’s”, that’s not good.

Many of you still do not understand Significant Figures. If I wrote “SF!” or “SF X” on your report, you probably do not yet understand the SF’s, and you will begin to lose points on that. They are important, you are expected to learn them and apply them properly all of the time.

Many of you will leave out the positive or negative signs for percent error. No sign means no thinking, which means a “-1” is right around the corner in your life. Not good again.

When you write density equals mass divided by volume, you have to do the math correctly to get mass, or volume. You can’t just multiply because you want to. Sometimes (often) you must cross multiply and then divide. DO THE MATH, don’t do what you want to.

Read the RUBRIC to remember to put things in order, and make sure you did all that you had to.

In chemistry, Capital Letters mean SoMeTHInG.  See how weird that word looks?  So does NE for Neon.  Except Neon is Ne.  NE is North East.  Or New England.  Or NOT EVEN close to correct!  HE is not helium, it’s wrong.  We play by a set of rules, some of which are surely annoying, but you can’t change them no matter how smart you are.  Play by the rules.  Learn them or lose points.

Your significant figures must follow through the whole problem.  If you start with 2 SF, your answer MUST have 2 SF.  If your SF change from start to end, you’re not paying attention (bad) or you don’t know (worse).

A real title always comes first.  The lab has a title, use that one.  Your name, class period and your intro sentence goes on the cover page.  The cover page covers the whole lab.  Put stuff where it belongs.  I have to grade 93 lab reports, 32 times this year.  That’s 2976 lab reports in total.  I don’t have time to look for your stuff.  You have to put it where it belongs, in the order it’s supposed to be in, or else it’s wrong.

Always work as hard as you can, your effort is like money into your bank account.  It is not cash, but it does increase YOUR NET WORTH as a person.