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Writing the Conclusion Paragraph
The conclusion paragraph is the culmination of all of your work in producing a formal lab report. In the science community (and in the classroom) this is considered to be the most important part of the formal lab report. The conclusion portion of your paper will express the logical results of your research and testing. Even if your results differed from your original hypothesis or expected results, you must form the conclusion based upon accepted scientific principles and the scientific method. It is important, finally, to address the key points of your objective. Also write the lab report in the third person, avoiding the use of personal pronouns. The rubric for the conclusion are as follows:
(10 points) Restate your objective or hypothesis. If no hypothesis is being tested, merely state your objectives. Give a general statement that describes your experimental method and note any exceptional difficulties or changes made to the experiment.
(20 points)Summarize YOUR results. You should spend a fair amount of time collecting data and analyzing the results, so be sure to state what values, numbers, charts, graphs etc. you came up with. If it is not convenient for you to put EVERY value in this section, simply give a range of values. (i.e. “The highest value of acceleration was 4.5 m/s2 and the lowest was 3.8 m/s2.”) If certain images, charts, or graphs are important to stating your results, simply state the page number and description (i.e. “See graph 1a on pg 4”)
(20 points) Compare your results to an expected value, behavior, image, etc. This will often be quantitative in nature, so you should give a percent error or percent difference value you calculated in the analysis section. If you cannot give a quantitative comparison, give a qualitative comparison (i.e. “During the reaction, a yellow precipitate was expected, however we observed a green precipitate.”) Be sure to note ANY result that is out of the norm. It does not matter if the value is “correct” or not. Simply state the discrepancy.
(20 points) Perform an error analysis. This is where you attempt to explain WHY you got the error/difference/variation discussed previously. It is important to use scientific principles, ideas and concepts in an attempt to explain the error. It is NOT sufficient to state the error was caused by something, without explain HOW it impacted your results. (i.e. “Due the presence of air and wind resistance, our value for free fall acceleration was lower than expected. This is because the wind resistance causes a drag force on falling objects, causing them to fall at a lower rate thus reducing their free fall acceleration.”)
(10 points) Was your objective achieved? The final few sentences should directly state whether or not your objectives were met or if your hypothesis was proven correct. There should be a DIRECT correlation between your data, results, and error analysis and your objective. If your results did NOT support your objectives/hypotheses, then state that was the case, otherwise state that your objectives were met. (i.e. “Based on our results and analysis, and the fact that our percent error values were under five percent for all experimental runs, it can be concluded that our objectives were met. We supported the statement that in static equilibrium, the vector sum of forces is indeed zero.”)
(20 points) No personal pronouns may be used in the conclusion. You must also follow proper grammatical rules for writing complete sentences and forming coherent thoughts in your conclusion.