Frequently Asked Questions
1. What are the requirements for a lab journal?
Each student team is required to submit a lab journal for part of their project evaluation. The type of lab book required is one that is easily obtainable at stores such as Staples or Office Depot. The recommended type is a Blueline Hard Cover Flush-cut Composition Book (7 ¼” x 9 ¼”). They sell for under $10. Digital lab books are acceptable.
For a scientist the lab book is a record of everything connected with his or her research. It is a record of the procedures, observations and results of ongoing research and it is a place to record those ideas that occur to a scientist as he or she thinks about the work. It is a record of when ideas were born in case there is a dispute over patents or intellectual property. There are some standard procedures common to most institutions. These are listed below and are the organizational and procedural aspects of keeping a lab book. As well, there are some expectations as to the kinds of content expected. These are in the checklist that judges will use to assess your lab books.
Laboratory notebook checklist
- Before you begin any entries, number every page of your lab book consecutively in the upper right hand corner of each page. Do not leave out any pages.
- Date every page of the book as you use it and every entry if doesn’t start on a new page. If you make a mistake, cross it out with a single stroke and initial it. Do not remove any pages from the book.
- Do not use white out or liquid paper.
- Glue a copy of the experimental procedure or protocol in the notebook the first time you use that procedure.
- Do not leave empty pages between experiments. Just write “continued on page ##” where you end and “continued from page ##” where you begin again.
- Start a new page for each different experiment or project.
- Glue diagrams and photos in at the appropriate place and initial the corner of the photo or diagram.
- If you are using kits in your protocols, make a summary in your lab book showing that you know what is happening.
- Include enough details so that others could repeat your experiments with or without kits. You are marking a trail for others to follow.
- IMPORTANT: Have your mentor sign the lab book indicating that he or she has seen it.
2. What should my display be like?
SBCC competitions are oral and poster presentations. Your display consists of a one piece poster that is 36” high by 48” wide attached temporarily to a backboard. Your poster be printed on one large sheet (preferably laminated) that can be rolled up for easier transportation. Your display should be a presentation of results, not a demonstration of the experiment. Competitors may use their laptop computers as a support but not to replace your oral presentation.
Check with your regional coordinator to see if backboards will be provided in your region. For the National SBCC, foam core backboards will be provided. If you are asked to provide your own backboard, it should be 36” high by 48” wide and self supporting. If set on a table top or on the floor it should not be higher than 6.5 feet (2 metres).
The best way is to do your poster is in PowerPoint, or similar, and then have it printed at a print shop. It should be printed on a large sheet, (e.g. 90 cm. x 120 cm). There are many sites on the Internet that provide instructions on how to do a poster in PowerPoint. If you type “How do you do a science poster in PowerPoint?” into your search engine, you will get several sites that can help. Some have free templates that can be downloaded and others have tutorial videos.
Make sure that your Mentor has reviewed your poster before you have it printed.
Although every effort will be made to prevent damage to exhibits, SBCC and its supporting organisations or co-operating groups will accept no responsibilityfor loss or damage to any exhibit or part thereof.
3. Do I have to submit a final report?
You should be prepared to provide your regional coordinator with an electronic version of a final report. Your report must be the single slide from which your display poster was printed.
4. How do I write an Abstract?
- Summarize your experiment in a single paragraph of not more than 250 words.
- Write in third person and use the past tense.
- Use one sentence to describe the general topic to be investigated and why it is important. Describe in one or two sentences, the specific question or relationship that you are investigating.
- Tell how you did the investigation in one or two sentences, avoiding a detailed description of procedure.
- Explain in one or two sentences the main point(s) of what you found out. Remember that negative results are useful as well. (If you haven’t collected or analyzed all of your data yet, indicate that and then modify your Abstract when you do your final report and poster board).
- Write a single sentence that summarizes your conclusions about the general topic, question or relationship that you investigated.
5. SBCC Safety Regulations
The primary concern at the SBCC competition is that of public safety. Many subject organisms and materials that may be used acceptably in your research under the supervision and approval of your mentor and his/her institution, are not permissible for exhibition purposes at the SBCC competition. Simulations or photographs can be substituted. The display is a presentation of the results, NOT a demonstration of the experiments.