I have been working on a cool research project for over a year now and I had to learn to properly collect and analyze a lot of data. I would like to introduce a few of the basic techniques I learned and you perhaps can use to compare data by using software such as Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets.
Are you up for trying an ambitious experiment that combines archeology, instrumental analysis, and a search for patterns in data? Then this activity might fit the bill!
To assist in grading the lab results for this and other quantitative labs that we did, I created Excel spreadsheets where the students’ results could be entered. The spreadsheet then did all the required calculations and compared the students’ results to the theoretical value. This made grading the lab reports much quicker and more accurate, flagged incorrect student calculations, allowed a much more complete discussion of the lab results and permitted “what if” questions to be discussed.
Just as our lives and various circumstances have a story, so do our laboratory experiences. Often the labs we do lack context but we expect students to buy in to the experiment without knowing the what, where, or why of the story. What makes this lab worth doing? What question(s) are we trying to answer? Why was someone exploring this in the first place?
A measured value has little or no true meaning and thus, it is useless, unless the figures (digits) in that value were deemed to be significant and the significant figures were properly determined and reported. Deciding the appropriate number of significant figures for the reporting of numerical data is not an obvious or easy task.