Physics 120 Lab Introduction and Writeup


The labs are designed to complement what is done in class. You should try to think of them in terms of what we have learned.  The labs in physics 120 always use the computer ‑ for data taking and/or analysis. We will use the first few weeks to learn how to use the computer. Let me know in lab if you haven't had much experience with a computer, and I will help you through.


We will usually do the labs in pairs. You should be sure to each do a proportional amount of the work. I reserve the right to ask lab questions on an exam. While you work together on the experiments, all of the analysis and writing should be done on your own. Of course, you should verify that you are both getting the same answers. Copying a lab or portion of a lab, even from your partner, is a violation of the honor code.


You will need a lab notebook, dedicated to the labs (I will collect it each week). A standard spiral bound, lined paper notebook with pockets is suggested.


Pre‑lab exercises will be assigned via the web the week before a lab, and they are to be done and submitted before you arrive at lab. There will also be a few post-lab exercises in addition to the pre-labs and they are due before the next laboratory session. You must read the lab before you arrive in lab.


I will often give a lab lecture at the beginning of lab. The lab write‑up will be done in your notebook, and completed and handed in before you leave lab. Expect to be in lab the full three hours each week. You may well be out early some weeks, but this can never be guaranteed, and will certainly not always be the case. Do not rush to get out early, as this will be reflected in your grade.


Labs will be graded on pre‑lab/post-lab exercises, performance in lab, and lab write‑ups.


The lab write‑up should include (in this order):


 name, partner's name, date

 number and title of experiment

 abstract or purpose (this is NOT procedure)

 apparatus schematics and method ONLY if they differ from the handout

 ALL data in tabulated form (printouts of spreadsheets, and/or written)

 plots (if any)

 results/error analysis (use correct significant digits)

 conclusions (address the purpose)


Data and plots will usually be printed from the spreadsheet on

the computer and glued or taped into the notebook.


If you prefer, you may do the lab write-up all electronically with Microsoft Word and Excel.