Students will need to prepare a data table in their laboratory notebook to help them collect their data. A data table will ensure that they are consistent in recording their data and will make it easier to analyze their results once they have finished their experiment.
It is important that students take detailed notes in their lab notebooks as they conduct their experiments. In addition to their data, students need to record their observations as they perform the experiment. Students will write down any problems that occur, anything they do that is different than planned, ideas that come to mind, or any interesting occurrences. Students need to be on the lookout for the unexpected. Their observations will be useful when they analyze their data and draw conclusions.
Each entry should be dated, have a brief description of what they did or observed that day, and mention their goal or plan for the next time. This will help them pick up where they left off when they return.
Aim for accuracy
Students should be as exact as possible when conducting their experiment or investigations – in method, taking measurements, and writing notes. Failures and mistakes are part of the learning process, so students need not get discouraged if they need to repeat their test a few times. Building in enough time in their schedule to allow them to troubleshoot and repeat portions of their investigations is wise.
Students should use numerical measurements as much as possible. If the experiment also has qualitative data, like detailed descriptions, they may take a photo or draw a picture as well as describe what happens in the lab notebook.
Whenever possible, students should take pictures of the experiment along the way. These will help them explain later what was done and enhance their project presentation. Pictures should not include researchers or participants faces.