Inquiry Template
Some students have trouble writing inquiries. Here is a template that may help.
In this template, sample text is in bold or normal style, while instructions are in italics.
Title (same as on the handout)
Purpose or Problem or Question: (same as on the handout)
Materials (same as on the handout)
To avoid having to type the above information, you may download the handout and use it as a starting point for your lab. Do not include the introduction, hints or other information that the handout may contain.
Procedure Summary
A good procedure summary should include the following, with perhaps one sentence devoted to each item:
1) What was the lab set-up?
2) What action occurred?
3) What was measured (independent and dependent variables)?
4) What devices were used to make the measurements?
5) What changes were made in independent variables to establish the range of data collected?
You are encouraged to use any figures that might appear in the inquiry handout, or to draw your own.
Introduce each data table:
This table shows...
Data Table 1. Title
item (units) item (units) item (units)
datum datum datum
datum datum datum
This table shows...
Data Table 2. Title
item (units) item (units) item (units)
datum datum datum
datum datum datum
And so on for each table...
Now include a table of measuring devices, their limits of calibration, and their uncertainties. If these values have been worked out in class, you do not need to explain where they came from.
Error in this inquiry came in part from the uncertainty associated with each measuring device:
Data Table number. Measuring Device Error
Device Limit of Calibration Uncertainty
meter stick 0.001 m +/- 0.004 m
CBL (photogate) 0.001 s +/- 0.004 s
Other sources of error in this inquiry were...
List sources of error that are unique to this inquiry. Estimate the amount of error for each source.
Analysis of the data in the above tables proceeded as follows:
Describe the analysis you performed. If the result of one analysis step led to the need for another step, explain the connection.
Refer to graphs:
Graph 1 (attached) shows the relationship between...
Note that Mr. Wiley likes graphs that are in-line with the text, and not attached.
For relationships, be crystal clear, and give a formula:
The period of a simple pendulum is proportional to the square root of the length of the pendulum. The formula relating these two variables is period = (0.200 s/cm1/2) length1/2.
Note that it is possible to typeset formulas in Microsoft Word, using the equation editor. A second, less desirable approach is to leave a space and write formulas in by hand. I will accept this, but many students forget to re-write the formulas if they have to print their labs a second time.
Defend your statements quantitatively:
Mass seemed to have little or no effect on the period of the pendulum. When mass was increased by 500% (100 g to 500 g), the period changed by less than 2% (2.008 s to 2.021 s).
If you can quantify the effect of error on the dependent variable (this will not always be possible), you should do so:
Calculations (attached) show that the error due to measuring the length of the pendulum from trial to trial could have resulted in more than 2% variation in the period.
Summarize all of the major results of the inquiry, while addressing the purpose / problem / question at the beginning. Be quantitative. For example,
Changes in mass and amplitude have at best a small effect on the period of a simple pendulum. The formula relating the period of the pendulum to its length is period = (0.200 s/cm1/2) length1/2. Since frequency is the reciprocal of period, the frequency of a simple pendulum is proportional to the inverse of the square root of its length.