Physics 135/136/163/164 introductory physics labs
PLU Physics department course policies
|Dr. William Greenwood
Office: Rieke 203
|Dr. Bogomil Gerganov
Office: Rieke 252
|Dr. Katrina Hay
Office: Rieke 251
|Dr. Richard Louie
Office: Rieke 253
|Dr. Bret Underwood
Office: Rieke 249
Lab Reports and Evaluation
- Each student must keep a bound lab notebook,
one with at least some gridded pages. A suitable notebook is
in the Bookstore.
- Each lab report is to be written in pen in the lab
notebook and should contain a brief summary of the purpose of
as well as clearly marked tables, calculations and sketches that
summarize the data, conclusions and configuration of the
data sheets are included with the laboratory instructions, they
be completed and attached to the lab notebook. Your notebook
complete enough that a knowledgeable reader would be able to
your experiment based upon the written account you provide in
- Two quizzes will be given (see the lab schedule). You may NOT
department-issued laboratory manual during these quizzes, though
will be permitted to refer to your lab notebook. Therefore, it's
important that your reports be clear enough for you to
extract information from them.
- Your weekly lab exercise will be successfully completed when
lab report meets the approval of your lab instructor snd s/he
your lab as having been completed. If your instructor does not
approval of your report, you must continue working on the lab
meets your instructor's approval. A student who leaves the lab
obtaining the instructor's approval will not receive credit for
- A student who successfully completes all the labs and takes
both lab quizzes will be assured
of at least a "C" grade for the course. A student with one
absence will receive a lower course grade; two unexcused
absences will result in failing the course. Performance on the
laboratory quizzes will provide
the primary basis for assignment of grades higher than C.
the discretion of the instructor, you may be asked to turn in
notebook at the end of the semester. The quality of the notebook
used as a grade bump in borderline cases.
- A student may not attend another lab section without the
of the instructor of that section. That instructor must report
student's completion of the lab to the student's regular lab
before the student will receive credit for the lab.
Guidelines/hints for your lab notebook
When deciding what you should write in your lab book and how you
should write it, the basis for judgment is utility. The first
keep a scientific notebook is to keep track of what you've done,
don't have to waste time repeating yourself. Your record should be
complete enough so that you can still understand what you've done
you were to look at your work six months later - or six weeks
during your lab quiz.
- Don't cram everything into a small area on the page. Spread
writing and drawing out.
- Be complete, but not verbose. Complete sentences not
Well-labeled sketches are effective.
- Label everything adequately. This includes titling the lab, as
well as calculations, tables of data, drawings, graphs,
In the professional world, your work will probably be challenged;
you will be asked to justify your conclusions or interpretations.
lab notebook (or equivalent) will be your best instrument for
Therefore, it should contain enough information to respond to the
skeptic (e.g., your thesis supervisor or your project manager) who
- What apparatus did you use?
- What data did you take and how did you take it?
- How good/reliable are your data? What is your experimental
precision, and how did you estimate or measure it?
- Why did you take that data? How do (or did) you plan to
that data in order to get your final result?
In addition to these topics, lab books often contain the first
preparatory steps toward the interpretation and publication of the
results. Your lab book will also serve as a lab report, so it
also contain a brief presentation of your results, the analysis
necessary to extract the results from the data, and the
that you can draw from the experiment. The report will usually
all or most of the following items:
- Completely labeled graphs and tables of raw and derived data
- A record of how the raw data were used in calculations of
- A record of how the uncertainties in the various results were
- Reasons why you should have confidence in the results. These
reasons usually are in the form of cross-checks: either with
experimental results, from independent sources, or theoretical