Practice Of Communicating Scientific Ideas
Assignment ID Number AFFGEHU83939HD Type of Document Essay Writing Format APA/MLA/Harvard Academic Level Masters/University References/Sources 4 References
Practice Of Communicating Scientific Ideas
Lab Letter Guidelines
Lab Letter Guidelines
PURPOSE: Regardless of what STEM field you work in or what your particular job is, you will regularly have to write reports, technical documents, etc. Employers highly value the ability to articulate and communicate how data leads you to a particular conclusion in addition to your technical credentials (Lab Analyses and Letters). Additionally, the audience you write for may not always have a technical background, so learning to write for a variety of audiences is important (Lab Letters). Like any other skill, it only improves with practice and hard work. My goal is to give you opportunities to build your skills as you progress through your scientific education.
The lab letter provides an opportunity to:
- practice communicating scientific ideas in a less formal setting than a typical lab report.
- practice communicating scientific concepts to a non-technical audience.
- revisit the concepts in the lab activity, thereby strengthening the new neural connections forming in your brain.
ASSIGNMENT: The lab letter is a summary of a lab activity we do in class written for a non-physicist. This non-physicist is not fictitious; you will compose and send a letter to a friend, family member, significant other – someone in your life for which you would like to share a little about the physics you are learning.
A good lab letter will:
- be written in the tone of an email. (This means you are conversational, and yet you still need to use correct grammar.)
- describe the experimental set-up/procedure in sufficient detail for a person unfamiliar with physics to understand. Pictures are not required, but they can go a long way in helping someone understand the set-up.
- describe results and their physical significance clearly and correctly.
- have correct grammar and spelling.
- summarize the results (usually a graph) and explain what they mean/what you learned, focusing on the physical interpretation rather than the numbers.
- answer three questions that connect the lab to reality:
- – Why did we do this?
- – What is the greater purpose?
- – How does this tie into your everyday life?
SUMBISSION: Email the letter to your recipient and include Drs. Schoene and Daane on the email. Please include “Lab Letter #,” with the appropriate number in the subject line.
GRADING: We will use an improvement-based grading method to determine the final score for the lab letters. This means if the lab letters show improvement over the quarter, the score for the last lab letter will become the overall score for all the lab letters. If the lab letters do not improve over the quarter, all the scores will be averaged (standard grading method). If a lab letter is not submitted, the lab letter scores will be averaged as well. Improvement-based grading reflects that good written communication is a skill that improves over time, rather than something students are expected to do well from the beginning of the class.
Please see rubric online in the canvas assignment for more information!
Example Lab Letter (I am sorry the pictures are missing!)
I am writing to tell you about some cool physics we did in our class recently.
First, here is the setup:
Our experiment is called Balancing a Ruler. We started with a 100 cm ruler, with a set under the 65 centimeter mark. We set this up on a table. This had the ruler offset to one side, meaning it is not balanced. We have created a lever, with a long end and a short end. We next placed a 250 gram weight on the short end, at the 75 cm mark. Note that this is 10 cm from
the fulcrum. This weight caused the lever to tilt, until the short end rested on the table, and the long end hung in the air. You may want to check out the picture below to help illustrate the setup.
Next, we used various weights (6 in total) placed on the long end of the ruler, to balance the ruler so that neither end touched the table. First up, we tried a 30 gram weight. We placed this on the long end, and adjusted its position until balance was achieved. We found the ruler balanced with the 30 gram weight 42.3 cm from the fulcrum. The results are shown in
the table and graph below.
We found some pretty neat patterns here.
First, notice on the graph, we see that as the weight increased, the distance from the fulcrum decreased. So, more weight used to achieve balance results in less distance out from the fulcrum. We learned that this is called an inverse relationship between weight added and the distance from fulcrum – I think of this as inverse because, as one goes up, the other goes down.
An interesting thing happened when we used the 250 gram weight, we achieved balance at 5.5 cm away from the fulcrum. This is interesting, because the weight on the short end is also 250 grams, but it is 10 cm away from the fulcrum. Why did that happen? This is because the long end and short end of the ruler have different weights. The long end of the ruler
weighs more than the short end, and affects the balance. What we observed is a lever. The longer the lever, the less force is required to move it. Moving the weight away from the fulcrum created a longer lever, so less weight (force) was required to achieve balance. Moving the weight towards the fulcrum created a shorter lever, so more weight (force) was needed!
So the ruler factored into the balance more than I originally thought.
Another interesting principle can be seen in the data. On the graph you can see that as our curved line approaches either axis line, it seems to “line up” or become parallel with the axis. If we were to continue this experiment with additional trials to gain more data, we can predict the line would continue in the same manner. In fact, the curved line will never cross
either axis. On the graph this would be called an asymptote. An asymptote is a line placed on the graph representing a value that our data will approach but never equal. We call this a “limit” of the data. This means that no matter how far from the fulcrum we move, we will always need to add a weight to achieve balance! The weight required will never be zero,
although it will get very close to zero. Imagine the lever lengthened equally in both directions. We could go as far out on the long end as we choose, but as long as the ruler keeps the same proportionality, we will always have to add weight to achieve balance. The short end will always rest on the table with zero additional weight.
On the other end of the spectrum, as we use a heavier and heavier weight, we move closer to the fulcrum. The weight must be on the long end of the ruler to result in balancing the lever. We could use a weight of several kilograms, but we will never achieve balance unless the weight is moved away from the fulcrum. Weight will always need to be a distance away
from the fulcrum, even though this distance will become very small.
This experiment showed some cool (and logical) principles at work. We were able to set up and conduct an experiment, collect data and create a graphical representation. Our findings revealed an inverse relationship between weight added and distance from the fulcrum. We also found that there are limits to how small the weight could become to achieve balance,
and how close to the fulcrum we could move the weight to achieve balance. I feel like because of this lab, I better understand inverse relationships, which are far more common than I ever thought about before. For example, we use this particular one all the time when carrying a tray of dishes, or using a seesaw, or even a baby’s mobile balancing above their crib. I
have a feeling this inverse relationship will come in handy when studying more concepts in physics this year.
Big Hugs –
QUALITY OF RESPONSE NO RESPONSE POOR / UNSATISFACTORY SATISFACTORY GOOD EXCELLENT Content (worth a maximum of 50% of the total points) Zero points: Student failed to submit the final paper. 20 points out of 50: The essay illustrates poor understanding of the relevant material by failing to address or incorrectly addressing the relevant content; failing to identify or inaccurately explaining/defining key concepts/ideas; ignoring or incorrectly explaining key points/claims and the reasoning behind them; and/or incorrectly or inappropriately using terminology; and elements of the response are lacking. 30 points out of 50: The essay illustrates a rudimentary understanding of the relevant material by mentioning but not full explaining the relevant content; identifying some of the key concepts/ideas though failing to fully or accurately explain many of them; using terminology, though sometimes inaccurately or inappropriately; and/or incorporating some key claims/points but failing to explain the reasoning behind them or doing so inaccurately. Elements of the required response may also be lacking. 40 points out of 50: The essay illustrates solid understanding of the relevant material by correctly addressing most of the relevant content; identifying and explaining most of the key concepts/ideas; using correct terminology; explaining the reasoning behind most of the key points/claims; and/or where necessary or useful, substantiating some points with accurate examples. The answer is complete. 50 points: The essay illustrates exemplary understanding of the relevant material by thoroughly and correctly addressing the relevant content; identifying and explaining all of the key concepts/ideas; using correct terminology explaining the reasoning behind key points/claims and substantiating, as necessary/useful, points with several accurate and illuminating examples. No aspects of the required answer are missing. Use of Sources (worth a maximum of 20% of the total points). Zero points: Student failed to include citations and/or references. Or the student failed to submit a final paper. 5 out 20 points: Sources are seldom cited to support statements and/or format of citations are not recognizable as APA 6th Edition format. There are major errors in the formation of the references and citations. And/or there is a major reliance on highly questionable. The Student fails to provide an adequate synthesis of research collected for the paper. 10 out 20 points: References to scholarly sources are occasionally given; many statements seem unsubstantiated. Frequent errors in APA 6th Edition format, leaving the reader confused about the source of the information. There are significant errors of the formation in the references and citations. And/or there is a significant use of highly questionable sources. 15 out 20 points: Credible Scholarly sources are used effectively support claims and are, for the most part, clear and fairly represented. APA 6th Edition is used with only a few minor errors. There are minor errors in reference and/or citations. And/or there is some use of questionable sources. 20 points: Credible scholarly sources are used to give compelling evidence to support claims and are clearly and fairly represented. APA 6th Edition format is used accurately and consistently. The student uses above the maximum required references in the development of the assignment. Grammar (worth maximum of 20% of total points) Zero points: Student failed to submit the final paper. 5 points out of 20: The paper does not communicate ideas/points clearly due to inappropriate use of terminology and vague language; thoughts and sentences are disjointed or incomprehensible; organization lacking; and/or numerous grammatical, spelling/punctuation errors 10 points out 20: The paper is often unclear and difficult to follow due to some inappropriate terminology and/or vague language; ideas may be fragmented, wandering and/or repetitive; poor organization; and/or some grammatical, spelling, punctuation errors 15 points out of 20: The paper is mostly clear as a result of appropriate use of terminology and minimal vagueness; no tangents and no repetition; fairly good organization; almost perfect grammar, spelling, punctuation, and word usage. 20 points: The paper is clear, concise, and a pleasure to read as a result of appropriate and precise use of terminology; total coherence of thoughts and presentation and logical organization; and the essay is error free. Structure of the Paper (worth 10% of total points) Zero points: Student failed to submit the final paper. 3 points out of 10: Student needs to develop better formatting skills. The paper omits significant structural elements required for and APA 6th edition paper. Formatting of the paper has major flaws. The paper does not conform to APA 6th edition requirements whatsoever. 5 points out of 10: Appearance of final paper demonstrates the student’s limited ability to format the paper. There are significant errors in formatting and/or the total omission of major components of an APA 6th edition paper. They can include the omission of the cover page, abstract, and page numbers. Additionally the page has major formatting issues with spacing or paragraph formation. Font size might not conform to size requirements. The student also significantly writes too large or too short of and paper 7 points out of 10: Research paper presents an above-average use of formatting skills. The paper has slight errors within the paper. This can include small errors or omissions with the cover page, abstract, page number, and headers. There could be also slight formatting issues with the document spacing or the font Additionally the paper might slightly exceed or undershoot the specific number of required written pages for the assignment. 10 points: Student provides a high-caliber, formatted paper. This includes an APA 6th edition cover page, abstract, page number, headers and is double spaced in 12’ Times Roman Font. Additionally, the paper conforms to the specific number of required written pages and neither goes over or under the specified length of the paper.
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