This lab features a continuous assessment: Assessment is based on your in-lab work, two formal reports (based on experiments 4 (pendulum) and 5 (coffee-cooling), and your lab-book.
Laboratory reports AND BOOKS
All your measurements, calculations, graphical work and conclusions for the laboratory exercises must be entered directly into the laboratory book. In your lab books, you should try to record data and do calculations neatly enough to be handed in as is. We are not demanding fanatical neatness, just legibility and clarity, but if you make a complete mess of your working, just put a line through it and move to a clear page and start again.
We require that you keep a
laboratory notebook - the lab technicians will issue you with one at the
start of the module. This is the complete record of what you do in the
lab, and for preliminary graphs, calculations and observations. Graphs that you need to draw on
other graph paper, as well as output from computer programs, must be
stuck in with clear tape or an adhesive. There is a lot of good sense on
notebooks and how to use them in Chapter 10 of the book by Squires. The
golden rule is to say what you are doing: write a sentence or two when
you make measurements, put labels on graphs, captions on sketches,
headings (with units!) on tables, etc. You should be able to reconstruct
what happened that day in the lab. Only by writing things down
systematically can you hope to do this - do not trust your memory!
Some other useful tips of how to use lab books:
- Keeping a good lab book, or lab diary, is an essential part of
experimental work. The purpose of it is to enable you to do further
work later such as analysis and writing reports. It also enables you
to justify - with evidence - how you passed your time in the lab.
- Start by writing the date and time at the top-left of a new page.
- Continue by writing, at the time, everything you do that
doesn't deserve to be immediately forgotten.
- Make notes of everything important that you learn and where you learnt
it from (script, demonstrator, partner, Google etc. Always write down
the URL if you read it on the computer).
- It is good to note the time, especially at key moments such as starting
- Everything should be sequential - never go back and rewrite
something. At the most, if you realise later that something was wrong,
cross it through (leaving it legible), and write your initials and the
time against it.
- Write down everything you do, and observe. Don't waste
paper writing ". . . it didn't work." Write down what it did do (e.g.,
"black smoke coming out of it"), from which you or anyone else can
later make the interpretation that it didn't work. Don't write "No
indicator lights on" - instead, write which indicator lights you have
observed to be off, e.g. "Power indicator off".
- Don't commit to paper what you think you will do. If you plan to
measure y as you vary x, do not first make a
table with all the x-values you intend to set. Instead, you
should write down the first x value, measure the y,
write it down, and then decide what to measure next. You might start
at x=0, measure y, and then decide to set x=10
and measure y. According to what you observe and measure, you
might decide to do x=5 next (filling in) or x=20
(extending the range). Write them down as you do them, in the order you
do them. After getting two or three data, sketch a rough graph (this
doesn't need a ruler or graph-paper) to see how y is behaving
and to guide what you do next.
- Never, ever, write anything on scrap bits of paper for
later fair-copying into your lab book.
- Finally, note that in these experiments, you don't lose marks if you
run out of time and fail to complete the experiment - provided
that your lab book shows evidence of what you lost time on - what took
longer than expected, and why.
Formal laboratory reports
The course also requires you to produce two formal reports. The first is for pendulum experiment and the second for the Coffee Cooling (Digital Thermometry) experiment. These reports must be typed using a word processor. As a general rule they should contain the following sections:
- Experimental details
- Results and Discussion
Instructions on how to write your report can be find downloading the following template ExampleReport.pdf. Please read these before writing up your own reports. There is also a good example of such a report in the Coffee Cooling experiment, and you can use this as a guide for your own report (but note that yours will be much shorter). Writing reports will be covered in the lectures. It is also useful to read Squires, Chapter 13 ("Writing a Paper") or Silyn-Roberts. The reports must be converted into PDF files and submitted via QMPlus.
Report Length: Your long reports must be limited to 4 pages of text using a 11pt or 12pt font size and normal margins. Content that goes over this limit will not be marked.
Worksheets and formal reports that you hand in must be your own work. Do not copy from other students. You will work in pairs for some exercises, and this means that you do the measurements as a team. However, you must write your own laboratory worksheets and reports. Submission of reports that are very similar, or that have parts that look as if they were copied from someone else, will be treated as possible plagiarism and may result in serious disciplinary action. See also the regulations for writing essays and reports in the Student Handbook