How to Write a High School Laboratory Report and Free Lab Report Template
Most schools opt to hold classes online due to the pandemic. This situation poses many challenges to students including the need for more instructional materials to aid the seemingly difficult communication between them and their teachers. While verbal explanations and visual examples surely are prolific and efficient for such documents, laboratory reports and other technical assignments may still be complicated to some students especially if they are doing it on their own at the comfort of their homes without the teacher’s guidance. Thankfully, high school laboratory reports are straightforward. Here is a short guide on what you should write in your lab report.
Definition of Laboratory Report
A laboratory report is a formal paper that documents the details of an experiment. It should clearly present the objectives, hypothesis, process, result, and conclusion of an experiment so that other researchers can try and replicate the results or disprove the validity of the experiment over time.
Parts of a Laboratory Report
The first confusion begins with the student’s failure to understand the terms used in a lab report. For instance, questions like what is a variable, what is the difference between controlled and dynamic variables, what is a hypothesis, and how does it differ from the conclusion can overwhelm a student. Especially, if that student’s strengths do not rely heavily on science and language.
Most high school science experiments are taken straight out of a textbook, hence, the title is already provided. However, teachers allow the students to explore and choose from a pre-approved list of experiments what experiment to try especially for remote classes. Usually, these experiments can be done with things you can find at home, but make sure that you ask for an adult’s supervision for safety. In the event that you need to come up with your own title, remember the following:
- Target - what you would like to achieve e.g., to measure growth by weight or height, to identify effects, etc.
- Subject - the thing on which you are conducting an experiment e.g., a mung bean, a plant, etc.
- Object - the intervening material you control to alter the result e.g., sunlight, water, salt
By determining those factors, you can easily come up with your own title. For example:
where your object is sunlight, the subject is a house plant, and your target is to determine the role of sunlight in photosynthesis. Note: It is never necessary to include the article “The” in titles.
Writing an introduction of scientific writing is easy. For one, you only have to write a concise description of the theories or paradigms related to your experiment. Furthermore, the purpose of the experiment is usually included in the introduction. So, the basic introduction format can be:
Describe the theories related to your experiment
Purpose of your experiment
“Chlorophyll is an essential class of pigments found in most photosynthetic organisms because this pigment captures the light energy in order to comment photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is an important chemical process where plants create food using carbon dioxide, light, and water leaving oxygen for humans as a byproduct (Lambers & Bassham, 2021). This experiment will attempt to determine how the presence and absence of sunlight affects a plant’s photosynthesis.”
This is only a rudimentary example. You can always elaborate on the concepts related to your experiment, given that you limit it to a single paragraph.
Basically, a hypothesis is an educated guess. It is a statement of the expected outcome of the experiment based on research. A hypothesis serves as the researcher’s initial supposition before the experiment begins. Most hypotheses are simple yes or no statements. For example:
“Sunlight is important to plants because, without it, plants will not be able to proceed with photosynthesis.” OR “The presence of sunlight is not necessary to a house plant’s photosynthesis.”
The purpose of the hypothesis is to ensure that the experiment’s procedure is aimed at finding an answer to a question – in this case, is sunlight important to photosynthesis. This hypothesis will later be discussed as correct or incorrect later in the conclusion.
This section should simply present the list of materials the researchers used for the experiment. In this section, you should identify quantitative and qualitative characteristics of your materials (e.g., three (3) potted jasmine plant, one (1) liter of water, one (1) illustration board for shading), and the conditions of your experiment (e.g., a disclaimer that this experiment was created in a humid environment, the weather, etc.)
This is the narrative part of your report, but keep in mind that this is not a narrative essay . Writing a set of procedures means that you need to write specific instructions for others to follow. The best way to write a procedure is to enumerate the steps you took, of course, chronologically. The problem is researchers, especially students, tend to forget some details of the experiment's procedure. To avoid any lack of information, record yourself while doing the experiment and narrate what you are doing at that moment (video or voice). This will make writing this section a lot easier later.
6. Results and Discussion
This section can be written separately as (1) Results and (2) Discussion. The only difference is writing these two elements together makes the report more coherent. This is because as you present the result of an experiment, you can immediately compare the differences among your variables. This also eradicates redundancy. However, if in case your teacher instructs you to discuss them separately, simply keep these simple rules in mind:
a. Write the results without anything else in mind. For instance: “The plant hidden from direct sunlight present yellow pigments on its leaves”. End the statement there. Note that the results section alone can be very short, so don’t worry if you feel like it’s not enough.
b. Write the discussion without conclusions. For instance: “The leaves of Plant A are greener compared to the leaves of Plant B.” End the statement there. Do not include any conclusion you can think of such as “The leaves of Plant A are greener compared to the leaves of Plant B. This shows that sunlight is important to the plant’s growth.” The latter sentence is now for the ‘Conclusion’ section.
This is where you interpret the results of your experiment. Study the similarities and differences of your variables. Under the conclusion, you are going to answer all the “why questions” you have in mind. Most importantly, you will decide the validity of your hypothesis in this section. Is it wrong? Is it correct, but with conditions? You can also discuss possible alterations that future researchers can create in order to generate alternative results. Open the door to other possible experiments that can stem from yours.
8. List of References
While many high school laboratory reports do not require a list of references, it is still safe to cite the authors of the reading materials you used for your report. Take our word, the last thing you would like to deal with is a plagiarism issue. But, do not be intimated because it is easy to write a research paper without plagiarizing.
High school laboratory reports are easy to write only if you have the proper knowledge about them. Considering its nature, the best way to ace your lab report is to do your research first before anything else. The good thing about high school level science experiments is the experiment instructions are already given to the students to follow. However, in the case of remote classes, it might be a little complicated to handle this assignment. Check out this free simple laboratory template we have for you:
Lambers, H. and Bassham, J. A. (2021, June 11). photosynthesis. Encyclopedia Britannica . https://www.britannica.com/science/photosynthesis