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General Info

You will have been assigned to a particular 3-hour laboratory time at registration. This may only be changed by arrangement with Lab Coordinator. On the lab website and on the bulletin board outside 102C Bethune College you will find your name on a student list with your particular group section (A, B, C). A schedule will be posted on the lab website and on the board showing which experiment each group will be doing week by week. This schedule is also included at the front of the manual.
In most cases, experiments of the schedule are arranged in twos, one-half of the class will be doing each of these experiments in any one week. The same experiments will run for three weeks, by which time every student will have completed both, though not in the same order. Students are required to attend all laboratory sessions to which they are assigned. Please be certain to sign the demonstrator's mark list as proof of attendance. Absence due to illness or other legitimate cause should be reported to Lab Coordinator, 233 PSE, as soon as possible so that credit may be obtained or an alternate lab assigned.


Why do Laboratory Work?
  1. all science is based on a foundation of experimental data and your experiments will exemplify and illuminate many of the principles studied in the lectures.
  2. the laboratory will be a medium for teaching some new material which will not be covered in the lecture course.
  3. it gives you an opportunity to train your brain, eyes and hands in good experimental techniques, while familiarizing yourself with some of the instruments used in experimental science.
  4. Obtaining good results is important, particularly if you intend to go on to more difficult labs. But do not get so involved in the mechanics of "doing" that you lose sight of the goal of the experiment, the theory behind it, and its wider applications.

We try to timetable experiments as near as possible to the related material in the lecture schedule. However, details in the operation of the laboratories prevent us from achieving a perfect match and we ask you to be tolerant in this regard.

You will need
  • this manual
  • the usual writing materials (graph paper is provided)
  • an electronic calculator

Lab Schedules and Attendance

Laboratory classes are held at the following times:

Fall/Winter session
Tuesday and Thursday, 9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Monday to Friday, 2:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.
Tuesday and Thursday 7:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Summer session
Tuesday and Thursday, 2:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
Wednesday, 9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
The laboratories are located in 120C and 102D Bethune College.

Prelab Preparation

You will know from the posted schedule which experiment you will be doing. Before coming to do the experiment, you are expected to read the appropriate section of this manual. Be sure you understand the theory involved, consult your textbook, and plan your practical work. Most of the lab outlines contain prelab exercises which must be completed on a separate sheet of paper before you come to the lab. This preparation is most important. It is unlikely that you will be able to finish the experiment satisfactorily or learn from them if you do not prepare beforehand. There may be short, unannounced quizzes on the experiment during some labs.


A sample lab report is included in the manual (appendix F).

We do not require you to write an elaborate report for each experiment. The report should include name, name of partner, title and date. The experimental data, whenever possible, should be summarized in the form of a table, with title, column headings, units and experimental errors. Graphs should have titles, axes labelled and units included. Errors of all measured quantities should be indicated on graphs in the form of error bars. Calculations should be shown and organized in a logical way, with short comments and explanations. Just formulas with substituted data are not acceptable.
Calculations of errors is an important part of the lab report (next section in the manual provides more information regarding error calculations and rounding of final result and its error).

You are encouraged to record in your report for future reference any comments regarding the theory or method or apparatus which enhance your understanding. Your report should resemble a research scientist's day-to-day experimental log rather than a polished scientific paper.

It is preferred that you write laboratory reports in notebooks, which encourage better organization and neatness. Do not tear pages out of the books, if a mistake is made, simply cross out the mistake neatly. Two books will be required to be used alternately throughout the year. Light weight coil notebooks are suitable. Put your name and lab time clearly on the outside.

The three-hour session should be sufficient for the taking of measurements and for calculations and conclusions, etc. Be punctual - latecomers will find it difficult to complete the assignment. All lab reports, finished or unfinished, must be handed in to your demonstrator by the end of the three-hour lab session.
Your report will be marked by the demonstrator whose name appears on the top of the attendance list which you sign. It will be your responsibility to collect your report from this demonstrator during your next laboratory session. At this time you should discuss with your demonstrator any matters concerning the report(s).

Lab Marks

The final lab mark will contribute approximately 10-20% (depending on the course) to the final grade. It will take into consideration prelab questions and quizzes, the weekly lab reports and the lab test which is written at the end of the session. Students should keep their lab reports for reference and as a record of marks. All your Fall Term lab marks will be posted in the lab in January for you to check.

Lab Partners

Some students claim that they learn more while working with a lab partner; others prefer to work alone. For certain experiments where basic techniques, etc. are explored, you will be required to work individually - this will be stated in the lab outline for those particular experiments. For the other experiments we will try to provide sufficient apparatus so that you may work with another student who has been assigned the same experiment or alone, as you prefer. For a few of the experiments the mechanical work is so difficult that one person cannot perform the experiment satisfactorily. If two students work together, each should take a turn at reading all the instruments and although both will have the same data, each student must submit an independent report, with independent calculations. No more than two students working together as lab partners is allowed.

Lab partners are randomly assigned. This facilitates meeting many friends, promotes social skills as well as reduces the probability of dishonesty when doing lab work. The details of how lab partners are assigned will be explained in the first lab.

Cleanliness and Care of Equipment

We do not charge you for accidental breakages, but please report them to the demonstrator or lab technologist immediately, so that equipment can be replaced or repaired.

Students must leave their place of work in the lab neat with all the apparatus complete. Each experimental set-up will be used by approximately forty students before it is retired for the year, so leave it for the next student in the state in which you would like to find it.

When a student hands in a report, the demonstrator will check their place of work to see that it is left in satisfactory condition. When satisfied, the demonstrator will accept the report.

Lab Safety

Scientists very commonly live to a grand old age in spite of their daily encounters with many hazards. The main reason for this is that a scientist doing an experiment is paying very close attention to everything that happens, is expecting the unknown and can react quickly to it. Your best protection against accidents in the lab is a constant thoughtful alertness which never permits your actions to become "mechanical" and "reflex".

Specific hazards which exist in particular experiments will be stressed in the respective lab outline. Please pay very careful attention to these warnings and act accordingly.

Notify the demonstrator or lab technician of any accident or injury no matter how insignificant it may seem.

In the case of a fire, at the sound of the fire alarm in the building, the university stipulates that everyone must leave the building. In the case of a fire in the lab, the demonstrator is responsible for taking the appropriate action to curb it, but the students must leave the building immediately.

A 24-hour Emergency Services Telephone Centre operates on York Campus and can be alerted by calling 33333 on all campus telephones or 736-2100 Ext. 33333 on public telephones.

Health services are located in York Lanes.

Academic Dishonesty

Students will certainly discuss and talk about their studies with their friends and this can be very useful; but any work that you hand in must have been done by yourself. This is the only way to test your own competence and to prepare yourself for positions of responsibility after graduation. If scientists are dishonest, they are useless.


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