A lab manual is a text, document, or book that helps understand what needs to be done while in a laboratory. It prescribes everything from the procedures that need to be performed to the etiquette that needs to be followed.
A lab manual usually contains exercises that help the students familiarize themselves with the facilities, equipment, chemicals, glassware, instruments used for measurement, and specimens available in a school science laboratory. It will also have all the necessary details regarding the precautions and measures taken while in the laboratory.
The format generally adopted while noting down information in a lab manual for the description of the experiments includes the following:
- The theory involved in the experiment
- All the materials required to perform the experiment
- The steps involved in performing the experiment
- The observations that need to be made as part of performing the experiment
- The formulae that are required for the purposes of calculation
- The theoretical results that need to be obtained.
It is important to note that special emphasis should be made while drawing conclusions and initiating discussions around the procedures, especially when it comes to the margin of error in an experiment. Every experiment has a certain margin of error that it is allowed because it is virtually impossible to get a perfect translation from paper to practice that soon. However, the margin of error should be clearly specified so that the person following the lab manual does not make an observation that is too far off from the desired outcome.
Lab manuals may also have a section for teachers to give notes to students. These may be prerequisites for the experiment they need to do or some random footnote. Whatever it is, there will be a section titled ‘Notes from the Teacher’ that they can note such instructions down.
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