1st Year Physics Lab Goals

Reference link: to Lab goals of AAPT (American Association of Physics Teachers)

Lab goals I have assembled  (last update Oct 25 2012)

  1. Connecting theory to physical world experiences
    • first hand experiences with experimental equipment
  2. Reporting
    • formal report components (procedure, data, results, …)
      • understanding what is involved with each component
    • following required specifications
  3. Uncertainties
    • role of uncertainties in significance of a value
      • random versus systematic errors
      • data contributions to final result uncertainty
    • uncertainty in data/measurements
      • estimates
      • statistical (calc, center/spread description, histograms)
      • digital and analogue
    • uncertainty in a result
      • propagation of uncertainties (with addition/subtraction/multiplication/division/powers/log/trig)
      • quoting a result (rounding, sig figs, percent/absolute uncertainty)
  4. Graphical analysis
    • error analysis from graphs (best/worst fits)
    • linearizing equations (power/exponential) for graphing
    • graphing fundamentals (scaling, presentation, slope calc, …)
  5. Comparison of values
    • percent difference, absolute difference
    • role of the uncertainty, agreement of values
  6. Measurements
    • reading a scale (oddly I found many students have difficulty reading an analog scale)
    • developing a sense of scale (eg. how much is a kg)
    • importance of units
    • viewing data through graphs (ie. “rough” graphing while conducting the experiment)
    • measuring time, mass, distance (including small separations)
  7. Lab environment
    • working with colleagues
    • working in a shared environment (eg. leaving a cleared workspace)
    • preparing equipment setup
  8. Scientific record keeping
    • logbook for notes, for evidence, for reporting
    • organizing a notebook
    • following an organization’s requirements
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