H ow t o wr i t e a s c i e n c e r e p o r t

TITLE/ QUESTION: What do we want to investigate? What question do we want to answer?
The title should only be a few words. The question should be written with it, but smaller, like the title above. The question you investigate could be as simple as:

What happens to _ when we change ?

HYPOTHESIS: What do we think might happen?
The hypothesis is connected to the question you are trying to find an answer to. The hypothesis can describe what you expect to find out by doing your experiment. In scientific language this means that a hypothesis will predict some sort of relationship/connection between what we change (independent variable) and what we measure (dependent variable)– it tries to predict an answer to the QUESTION asked. A very good hypothesis might provide
a reason for the prediction. It could also include why we are investigating this QUESTION (why it is important).
A simple hypothesis could be:

The change in _ will cause to . This should happen because .

AIM: What is being investigated?
An aim is usually one short sentence that directly states the objective of the experiment – it tells you exactly what you are trying to prove by doing the experiment. An example would be:

the effects of _ on __.

PROCEDURE: How will we conduct the experiment? What equipment will we need?
Think about:
  • What variable are we deliberately going to change – how will we do this?
  • What variable are we going to measure, how will we do this?
  • What variables are we going to try to keep the same (constant) each time?
Once you have answered the three key questions above you should have a bit of an idea of what you have to do and what equipment you will need. Write out a step-by-step guide to what has to be done to complete your experiment. You could number the steps so that they form a list of instructions. Use the past tense (picture yourself doing each step) and try to avoid using “we” or “I”. Write a list of equipment you will need (use a subheading –Equipment or Materials). Using diagrams can save you having to write several instructions or explanations.
Your instructions should be aimed at your peer level – so avoid including really simple instructions (such as collecting equipment).

DIAGRAM: Two dimensional representation of the experiment.
A good simple diagram is an easy way to show a complicated set-up of equipment and can make it easier for the reader to understand what to follow. Diagrams of science equipment are drawn in two dimensions (i.e. no depth) and are called line drawings. Some rules to remember are

1. Diagrams drawn in black pen/pencil. 2. Straight lines should be drawn with a ruler.
3. Labels should be printed horizontally. 4. No colour or shading.

RESULTS: What data has to be written down? How do I organise it?
This section is where you keep a record of what you measured in the experiment. It must be very organised and usually the data that is collected is put into tables (there could be more than 1 table). Almost all data will fit into a table, even observations can be organised this way. Each table should have a title – such as Table 1, etc. Each column in the table should have a
heading and if the data in the column is numbers then the units should be written with them –for example, if you measure the length of a shadow – the units would centimetres (or cm). If the data is numbers then you may be able to show them on a graph. There are two types of graphs used in Science – bar (or column) graphs and Line graphs. Bar graphs are used for discontinuous data, line graphs are used for continuous data – in general a simple way to tell
the difference is that you “count” discontinuous data but “measure” continuous data. The data you collect will usually suit one of these but not the other – be careful which you use.

CONCLUSION: What happened? Why do we think this happened?
Can we improve?
A conclusion analyses the results and provides explanation of the results and any errors that may have occurred. This part is very important and is often read first by other scientists. A conclusion identifies the patterns in the results and explains why these patterns occurred. It also identifies anything that went wrong (your errors) and judges the worth of the experiment. The key parts to a good conclusion are (but don’t use headings for them – just one or two paragraphs each):
What - Note patterns, summarise, and interpret the results/observations.
- What can you decide from the results, what do they tell you?
- Could there be anything wrong with the results? Is there any odd data?
These are errors and should be noted. Explain why they look like errors and why you think they occurred.
Why - Explain the theory which caused the results to be the way they are.- Link the results or compares them to accepted scientific understanding.
Sum Up - Sum up results, sum up errors, was your hypothesis correct? (3 sentences)
OVERALL: Try to be concise (to the point) and precise (say exactly what you mean). Often it is easier to do a first draft using very simple clear language. In your second draft you can then use some more complex language and structure (combining ideas etc) to improve your report.
Writing a science report does NOT mean you have to use complex or big words. A science report should be objective and not contain opinion orientated words such as “good results”, “excellent”, “and fairly large”.

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