Each student should have a lab notebook with bound,
numbered pages and a table of contents. Please clearly mark and date
One should arrive at lab prepared to conduct the
relevant experiment. This means that the lab manual
should be read well in advance, and you should think
about the goals of the experiment, what needs to be measured,
and how to make these measurements precisely. To
demonstrate you have prepared, we ask that you turn in a
short document at the beginning of lab discussing the experiment.
Do not merely copy information from the lab manual. Some
suggestions for talking points include (but are not limited to):
Name, experiment, date (required)
Brief description of the experiment
Method for making the measurement(s)/taking data
Method for analyzing the data
Answers to questions asked explicitly in the lab manual
Any other information you deem
These pre-labs should be approximately 1-2 pages. This document is to be
your lab book, in the pages preceding where you will eventually make record
of the raw data you take in the lab. The TA will quickly look over all
pre-labs at the beginning of the lab period and sign off on those that are
completed on time and are a reasonable quality.
While conducting the experiment, each student shall keep neat,
detailed notes of the procedures as well as organized records of
raw data in lab books. The idea is that another physicist should
be able to reproduce the experiment by using your lab book alone
(i.e. without the lab manual). Organized record keeping is a
very important practice in scientific research, and we would like
to emphasize that in this course. Before leaving the lab, you
should show your lab instructor your lab book for review. We
will provide suggestions when appropriate and sign your lab book
once it is deemed satisfactory. Please make note of the following:
Only taking down the raw data is not sufficient.
Include some words about what the numbers correspond to and
anything noteworthy that happened while taking the data.
Data should be recorded in organized tables and include units.
Be sure to include uncertainties for
all measured quantities.
After all the relevant data has been gathered in the lab, it is the
student's responsibility to produce a "write-up" or "lab report" that discusses
his/her experience in performing the measurements. This is where you
should display your final plots and conduct any additional analysis
(including error propogation!) before stating your result. Your
results should then be compared to the theoretical prediction and/or
one another (in many cases we will measure the same observable in
more than one way - are they consistent?). You have the week between
experiments to complete each write-up; the previous week's write-up
is due along with the current week's pre-lab at the beginning of each