Suggestions on Lab Reports, pg. 1
Some Suggestions on Preparing Lab Reports
There are two primary reasons you are writing reports on your laboratory work.
(1) Preparation of a good report requires that you reflect on the ideas you explored in the laboratory. Laboratory projects are designed to help you develop a deeper understanding of the ideas of calculus, to help you learn to explore new mathematical ideas on your own, and to help you learn to bring together many different techniques in attacking problems. You will be able to accomplish these goals only if you take the time to reflect on what you are doing.
(2) Writing laboratory reports helps you learn to communicate your understanding of mathematical ideas to others. This skill is not acquired easily, but it will be of great value to you when calculus laboratories are only a dim memory.
Your reports will usually consist of two parts: one-sentence answers written directly on the laboratory handout, and a somewhat longer answer to an essay question. The comments below give some guidelines to follow in preparing your lab reports.
¥ Think of the audience for your reports as being students in other sections of Calculus I. You are not trying to teach these folks how to use Mathematica and you are not trying to impress anyone by using fancy words or stilted language. The goal of your report should be to help your reader understand the problem or idea that you have been studying.
¥ Attach to your report any printouts of Mathematica output which help you to explain your answers to the questions that have been posed and refer to those printouts in answering the questions. Always label your printouts. (For example, if your printout is the graph of a function, label the coordinate axes and indicate what function is being plotted.) Do not hesitate to write comments on your printouts; it is very important that you explain what the important features are or what the output shows.
¥ In answering an essay question you should try to give clear explanations of the problem you set out to solve, the method you used to solve the problem, and the results you obtained. I suggest that you use the following checklist in preparing your answers to essay questions.
____(a) Give a brief statement of the problem. Answer the question, ÒWhat was I to do?Ó
____(b) Provide a short description of the procedure you used. For example, ÒI used Mathematica's Solve command to ..., and found that ... Then I ...Ó You should not write out the details of the Mathematica commands you used. That is, you should not write ÒI typed in Solve[x^2 == 1, x] ...Ó
____(c) State (or restate) your conclusions. Don't forget to tell your reader what you have done.
Be sure to explain your work clearly and use complete sentences in writing your reports. Do not feel that you need to write a book; chances are that your answers to most of the essay questions will be less than one page long.
¥ Talk with your lab partner (and, if you like, other students in the class) about how to solve the problems and how to write your lab report, but be sure that you write your own report.
Mathematica Laboratory Hours
The laboratory is open for use during the following hours:
Sunday 2:00 Ð 5:00 and 7:00 Ð 10:30
Monday 4:00 Ð 7:00
Tuesday 4:00 Ð 6:00 and 7:00 Ð 10:30
Wednesday 4:00 Ð 6:00 and 7:00 Ð 10:30
Thursday 4:00 Ð 10:30
Friday 2:00 Ð 5:00