Our primary goal is to teach students to think on their feet. At this stage, that's more important than making good measurements. You can tell the process is working when the student starts to 'hack'. This happens when she performs the "generate hypothesis" and "draw conclusions" steps of the scientific method in her head. Often, she will no longer feel it necessary to document debugging steps as thoroughly. This should be rewarded, because that's exactly what professional scientists do.

Conditions leading to full (or nearly full) credit:

  1. The experiment worked, and results look like what they're supposed to.
  2. The student did everything you asked her to do after last week's disaster.
  3. The experiment was a complete disaster, but the student documented all the steps she tried to make it work, including why certain steps were taken.
  4. The student satisfied most of conditions 1-3, and writes "I worked on this for 4 hours and now I am going to sleep." Part of good experimental technique is knowning to quit before you get hurt. We want to encourage this behavior at this age. Perfection will come later.
  5. The student put a lot of effort into the lab, and her report is much better than in previous weeks.

Conditions leading to no credit:

  1. The lab book is late (without prior arrangement or a good reason).
  2. The lab book was sneaked into the middle of the pile on the desk in your office (as if you don't count them when you pick them up).

Things you should ask the student to do differently next time: