For High School Teachers
 
From DNA to Organism: A Study in DNA Function for the High School Biology Classroom
 
 

Lab Write-Up Format

Problem description (5 points)

  • This is the section of the lab report where you answer the questions “what” and “why.” This section also serves as an introduction to your experiment. Here you should introduce the problem that you were trying to solve, any background information, and a brief description of how you tried to solve it. People should be able to identify exactly what problem you were trying to solve and why it is important to solve it just by reading this section of your report.  
  • Experimental design (5 points)

               
  • The experimental design allows the reader to know exactly how you conducted your experiment. One of the keys to good science is that it can be replicated or repeated by others. Your description allows people who read your experiments to carry out the exact same experiment to verify your results. It is very important that you describe your experiment in detail so that someone can do the same experiment. Make sure to include: the exact measurements (in units) of things you used, exact times that you waited for reactions to happen, and descriptions. It is important to describe not just the method that you used but the materials (including biological samples) as well, i.e., did you use any specific piece of equipment to carry our your experiment? Would a sketch of it help your description? Where did your samples come from?  You also need to describe how you collected your data, i.e., did you observe for a color change, count bubbles, time the reaction?
  • Data (5 points)

  • Here is where you show people the data that you collected from your experiment.   It could be in the form of observations, pictures, drawings, a table, or a graph. It is important to label your data so that people know exactly what you are showing, i.e., label titles and axes on graphs, labels for pictures, etc. It is a good idea to include multiple representations of your data if possible. A data table is nice but a data table and a graph are better for people to understand your data. For some data, a graph may not be possible, so a table alone is the best way to represent your data. You do not need to tell what your data means here, you will do that in your conclusion, just show the raw data.
  • Conclusion (10 points)

  • This is the most important part of the lab. Here you explain what you learned from your experiment. A good place to start is restating the problem that you were investigating. Then propose an answer to the question based on your data. Always back up any statements with specific examples of results from your experiments that you collected (data points, observations, etc.). Explain how your data supports your conclusion by citing specific observations from your experiment. If there are data points that do not seem to fit with your conclusion, mention them and try to explain them.
               
  • If you had any major problems in your experiment, here is a good place to mention them. Did the results that you got not agree with what you expected? What does that mean? Did the experiment not work because of the setup? How could you fix it? It is also important that you include a discussion of how valid your results are. Do you trust your results? Is there any reason not to? If your data does not answer the question, or is not valid, it is okay to say that you cannot answer the question with your results but you need to explain why.
              
  • Lastly, the conclusion should suggest future experiments based on your results.   For example, did your experiment provide unusual results that you may need to do another experiment to see again? You could describe the experiment that might help to solve the strange results. 

  • Sources consulted

  • If you used any outside resources to help you to do your lab, or understand your results, you need to cite the source. It might be a book, a magazine, or an Internet source.   For most of your labs, you will probably be able to write it up without resources but you may decide to look some things up for some labs.
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    Contact info:

    Dr. Gerald Berkowitz
    Agricultural Biotechnology Laboratory, U-4163
    Room 302C
    1390 Storrs Rd.
    University of Connecticut
    Storr, CT 06269-4163
    E-mail: gerald.berkowitz@
    uconn.edu

    phone: 860-486-1945