Rutgers University Department of Physics and Astronomy

Physics 106 Mini-Lab Guidelines

Here are the lab assignments:

  1. Distance to the Moon
  2. Simple Pendulum (the video about the hammer and feather drop is located at this URL. Note, to advance one frame in Quicktime (and most other similar programs) you stop the video and hit the right arrow key.)
  3. Specific Heat
  4. Electric Motor
  5. Atomic Spectra

    The first 2 labs are due in CLASS before spring break (on March 8th) and the last 3 labs are due on the last day of class (on April 30th).


The Math/Science Learning Center is on the Busch Campus, but some labs may be done at home.

Guidelines for Writing your Lab Reports

Your lab report should be uploaded directly in the relevant assignment in Sakai. Please follow the guidelines below!


"What is this meter stick good for ?" It is always a good idea to make sure you find all the equipment you actually need, whether tools, electrical devices or specific instructions to the measurements you are currently working on. In your lab report you should always state at the beginning what you have used and for what purpose. This can be very brief and should not be longer than a few lines.

Collecting and interpreting data

Write down what you have measured (whether a distance, a time interval etc.) or - in case there is no need for numerical values - what you have observed. Discuss in which order you have done things and how you have proceeded. This is the main part of your lab report and should be roughly one page long.

When you write numbers, be sure to include units (there is a big difference between 0.8 m and 0.8 km!).

Generally, you should collect a sample of data rather than measure a value once and take for granted that it is correct. Then you can average your measurements to arrive at the final one. This not only yields a more reliable result, but it also gives you a feel for how far off certain data points are from this average value.


Generally speaking you shouldn't need much heavy math for these labs. But if you aren't sure of your math skills, you are allowed, and even encouraged, to get help from a math-savvy friend. The emphasis here should be on getting to the physics, not getting stuck on the math.

You should also use the Sakai chat room, and my office hours, as needed.


As you describe each step in the lab procedure, try to say why it is being performed.


The most detailed and in depth analysis makes no sense if it is not followed by some concluding critical and self-critical remarks. It may only look like the closing paragraph but it is most important that you commit to a statement. You should clearly explain whether you appreciate the results of your experiment and whether these results fulfill your expectations. In case you are in disagreement with what you expected try to find out what could have gone wrong.

In this conclusion you should feel free to say what you thought about the lab you just did. How correct or how far wrong do you think your conclusions are? In experimental science, it is very important to have an opinion about your measurements. Express them.


It is fine if you do the lab in collaboration with a classmate, but the writeup must be 100% your own! You should mention in your writeup who you worked with. It is perfectly acceptable (even encouraged!) for individuals in a group to have different opinions about the measurement.

Suggestions for improvement

We are always open to suggestions for improvements of the labs. Talk to me, send me email.

Please send any comments on this page to