Keeping a Science Notebook

Setting Up Your Science Notebook:

1. Use a 8″ x 10″ sketchbook. I picked up some hard bound black covered ones at Ben Franklin during one of their many 1/2 off sales. We preferred the stitched variety over the spiral bound, and we looked for ones that had a smoother paper rather than rough.

2. Use a light-colored paint pen (if the spine is black) to put your full name and the course on the spine or cover. See #5 first.

3. Put a bit of contact information on the inside front cover. Maybe your name and email address, or phone number.  Just in case…

4. Skip the first page or two. You may want to go back later to add a table of contents and/or a cover page. This is especially true if you keep a separate lab notebook.

5. Number each page in the top outer corner. To facilitate #4.

6. Date each entry. Preferably abbreviating the month, rather than using a number, and using the whole year. (e.g. Sept. 2, 2011)

7. Be neat. I recommend tracing the lines of a piece of binder paper with a sharpie and putting it behind the page you are writing on. You can see through just enough to keep your lines straight.

8. Use ink, not pencils. Draw a thin line through anything you want to cross out, but don’t use correction fluid/tape.

9. Do no tear out pages.

What to Include In Your Science Notebook:

  • Journal of readings (narrations)
  • Record of labs
  • Related picture or sketch
  • Reproductions of worksheets completed
  • Relevant quote or verse

Important Note: I have been told that if you are college bound in a science field, you should keep a separate notebook that is specifically for labs.

What to Information to Include About Your Labs:

  • A title and date
  • Why the experiment was initiated
  • Hypotheses and goals
  • Lab partners
  • List of equipment used
  • Details of products used
  • Record of procedures
  • How procedures were performed
  • Drawings/sketches of experiment set-up
  • Data you collect
  • Daily entries for things you are watching
  • Calculations
  • Outcomes
  • Graphs
  • Mistakes made or problems encountered
  • What would you do differently next time
  • Final thoughts
  • Glue in things like: printed graphs, datasheet templates, photographs, product labels, etc.

**Remember to include units of measurement

Keeping a notebook gives you a forum to talk to yourself, to ask questions, to jot down important thoughts about the experimental design, and how your results might eventually be interpreted.” – Collin Purrington

More information about keeping a lab notebook: 
Collin Purrington – Maintaining a Laboratory Notebook
BenchFly – How to Keep a Lab Notebook
UCLA – Some Tips on Writing Lab Reports

4 thoughts on “Keeping a Science Notebook

  1. Pingback: What Makes Up Our Chemistry Curriculum | Sabbath Mood Homeschool

  2. Heather

    This is SO helpful! Thank you!
    Quick question… Should all forms be keeping a notebook? Or just the upper forms?


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