Keep a Notebook
Notebooks or lab books are:
Encouraged for K-4th grades,
Recommended for 5-8th grades,
and REQUIRED from 9th grade to 12th grade.
Notebooks should be bound, regular lab books with numbered
pages. K-8 may use loose leaf, or spiral bound notebooks.
The lab book or Journal is an essential part of any research project. It is simply an element of the scientific and engineering process. When Leonardo DaVinci wrote his notes, paper was an expensive commodity. Some of his notes on paper are written in the margins and just about anywhere he could jot some more notes or make some more diagrams. In this modern era, the bound lab book is kept by all scientists and engineers. Lab books not only help the researcher, but are used in legal proceedings to determine who was the first to discover, a critical part of US Patent law. Every year there are 40-100 patents applied for at ISEF.
The Lab Book should include:
- listing of questions, ideas, interests
- literature search: document all journals, books, magazines, phone conversations with mentors or specialists, internet url’s, etc
- research plan
- materials used
- ALL data obtained
- Thoughts along the way
At the upper levels: Entries in the Lab Book or Journal should be initialed and dated. Some teachers require every page to be signed in full. This is evidence of when you did the work – for teachers, parents and judges to confirm that this is indeed the students work!