Monthly Archives: March 2017

How Adults Can Sabotage a Child’s Academic Success in Science and Mathematics

They were the beacon of hope and a light into the future almost a half-century ago. Two of the most beloved wonders of the world, then—science and mathematics—have become two of the most controversial subjects in today’s public and private education system. Science is suffering from variable results based off shaky theories and continual research into itself, causing its constants to change—changes that most people cannot or will not understand or accept.

Child's Academic Success in Mathematics

Meanwhile, mathematics suffers from an overall deep dislike of the subject by many people and by the birth of technology, which grants quick access to complex equations by a sequence of keystrokes—much unlike the mid-1900s, and before, when problem-solving was drawn out in laboratory notebooks or on classroom chalkboards.

Conversations have turned away from bouncing ideas and thoughts from one person to the next. Now, we often repeat aloud the words and numbers displayed on screens from waves of data bounced between the electronic devices. With this disconnect applied to the fundamentals of math, it is quite easy to forgo understanding the entire equation, ending up just spitting out the answer.

So, how can people really learn about and like math when they don’t want or need to? It doesn’t help that parents reinforce this behavior when they pull out their phones to calculate a tip or convert fractions into decimals. Why would a student choose to pick up a pencil and a lab notebook if the mentality toward math is to use a smartphone to come up with an answer?

As it turns out, all of these anxieties and fears of science and mathematics affect the ability of children in the classroom. Some believe it has to do with the fact that “parents’ and teachers’ own math anxieties and their beliefs about whether math ability is a stable trait may prove to be significant influences on children’s math attitudes.”1

Child's Academic Success in Science

Another example of detrimental effects these attitudes toward math have on children are the deep-seeded gender stereotypes about girls’ inabilities to excel in mathematics. This, alone, could prevent a student from fulfilling her potential simply because of a culture perpetuates this belief about both math and science.

Science is constantly under the scrutiny of religious leaders. It is hard to imagine that the creationism and evolution-based ideologies could be any further apart. Most creationist leaders toss aside scientific research that contradicts creationism, no matter how solid or well-researched it may be.

In some states, where religion plays a huge part of daily life, this ideology can affect the classroom significantly. Students are not taught that science is a living, breathing subject. Instead, many are taught that science had its shot and has, in some ways, failed to prove itself.

It is imperative that adults stress the importance of science and math, and the advantages they provide us in improving our culture and careers, as well as our understanding of the vast universe we call home. With these key elements in mind, students can prepare themselves for a bright and successful future ahead.



A Teacher’s Guide to Mentoring Students in STEM

Today’s school curricula tend to fall short in the subjects science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Many public schools have shifted their focus to helping students do well on various standardized tests and now spend a good portion of the school year reviewing materials covered on these tests. As a result, numerous nonprofit and charity organizations have developed programs over the years to help connect students with STEM mentors.

Scientific Notebook
STEM mentors play a vital role in helping children, teens, and young adults further develop their interests in related STEM career fields. A STEM mentor does not have to be a teacher by professional, and many mentors come from various STEM career fields. The goal of a STEM mentor is much more than just talking about STEM-related topics of interest between the mentor and mentee.

What makes a great mentor is being able to listen to the student. In some cases, the student may only require a “sounding board” and someone to talk to about different ideas and thoughts they have while working through a problem on their own. Other times, they just want someone they can talk to without discussing any STEM topics whatsoever. STEM mentors need to recognize these differences and be able to provide the support the student requires.

Another aspect to becoming an outstanding mentor is helping to inspire students in various ways. For instance, you could challenge them to explore various topics on their own and find something within those topics that truly excites and motivates them. On the other hand, you could provide them an overview of a recent advancement in a STEM field and ask them their input on how they think this new development will benefit people.

Furthermore, a STEM mentor needs to be able to notice the differences between admiration and true interest. Some students will look for adults they admire, who are basically their “heroes” in one of the STEM fields. This adoration can sometimes create challenges for the mentors because they need to help the student learn the difference between what topics are of interest to the student, not just the STEM field of expertise their mentor excels in.

Mentoring Students in STEM

In addition to these traits, a mentor must be able to come up with creative ways to provide students with hands-on experiences to truly help expand the student’s ideas and thought processes about STEM-related fields. Mentors should also try to arrange the opportunities for students to meet professionals working in STEM career fields so they can see first-hand exactly what is like to work in that area of STEM.

As students become older, the nature of the relationship between mentor and mentee needs to evolve and expand. Mentoring high school and college students becomes more about building stronger relationships and helping guide the students to careers they will enjoy doing.

If becoming a STEM mentor sounds enticing, we encourage you to seek out various programs in your area. For all of your research and scientific lab notebook needs, remember to order them from SNCO by calling 800.537.3028 today. We are world’s leading manufacturer of scientific notebooks!

Tips for Reading a Scientific Paper

For many students of science, learning how to read scientific papers can pose a challenge in the beginning. With the use of referencing scientific papers in the media, classroom, and on websites, it is vital to be able to read and correctly interpret scientific papers.

Lab notebook

Scientific papers are almost always prefaced with an abstract—a summary of the hypothesis, research, and results. However, some abstracts can be fairly short, may contain a significant amount of scientific jargon, or do not convey the in-depth research done by the paper’s authors.  Some websites also require you to have an account to be able to read the paper’s full text. You may feel overwhelmed, at first, so here are a few tips to help you read and understand a paper from beginning to end.

  1. Give it a quick first read. Using a lab notebook, write down the name of the paper. Be sure to take notes while reading. Use the header words of each different section—for example, Introduction, Conclusion, etc.—so you are able to keep your notes organized.  Quickly skim the paper and write down main themes, theories, research data, and other terms or phrases that stand out.
  2. Create a list of phrases or terms that confuse you. In your laboratory notebook, be sure to create a way to identify unfamiliar and/or confusing terms or phrases. Different sciences may use familiar terms as a completely different meaning. Some sciences use the context of words to explain research that may not make sense in layman’s terms.
  3. Research words you do not understand. Use a scientific dictionary to research unfamiliar terms or phrases. Once you have gathered all of the information in context of the paper, re-read it again carefully. Be sure to compare your new understanding of the paper to your notes. Double check that the notes you have written down in your lab notebook are correctly aligned with the paper’s data. Key elements to look out for are the publishing date, hypothesis, sample size, collection methods, and conclusion(s).
  4. Pay attention to figure details. Many papers include graphs, infographics, and/or tables. It is key to take notes on the figures in the order of which they are mentioned in the paper. It is very important to understand the effects of scaling within the graph(s) to be able to correctly interpret the data. Record the information you learned in your laboratory notebook.
  5. Interpret the data in student scientific notebooks. Use your laboratory research notebook to answer the questions. You may have to go back and read sections several times while comparing your notes to the paper in order to get a better understanding of the subject. Be sure to do independent research on the same or similar studies.
  6. Ask yourself the following questions:

-What is the hypothesis?
-What are the data collection methods?
-What does the data say about the hypothesis?
-What does the conclusion say about the hypothesis?

Scientific notebooks


How to Cite in ACS Format

To a lot of students, learning to write in an academic style is nothing more than a chore and an inconvenience—something that their professors foist on them just to make things more difficult for them. The truth is, however, that there are very good reasons that anyone hoping to make their name known in the world of science and academia should familiarize themselves with ACS style and make it a habit of writing in accordance with academic formats.

Like it or not, academic formats are the language of the field; anyone who wants to be taken seriously in the world of science publications—or who wants to follow proper guidelines for writing a laboratory notebook—needs to learn to cite their sources in ACS format. If you want to learn how to do that or need a refresher, read on!

Writing a Laboratory Notebook

An Introduction to ACS Format

In case you don’t know, ACS stands for American Chemical Society, the group that came up with the guidelines for how scientific articles should be written. ACS format has long been the chosen style for academic scientific writing, and, like other academic formats for citing sources, it provides a unified framework that makes interpreting and fact checking articles easier.

Additionally, according to commonly accepted guidelines, laboratory manuals and notebooks should also be written in ACS style.

What Is ACS Format?

The most important part of ACS format is its guidelines for citations. Inevitably, science articles will make reference to other works, whether those are books, other articles, or the writer’s own previous work. Depending on the information and the type of material being cited, the format changes.

According to ACS format, in-text citations can be handled in different ways:

  1. Superscript numbers
    • •   The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.¹
    • •   Jones and Weaver1 state that the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.
  1. Italic numbers
    • •   The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog. (1)
    • •   Jones and Weaver (1) state that the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.
  1. Author name and year of publication
    • •   The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog (Weaver and Jones, 1998)
    • •   Weaver and Jones state that the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog. (1998)
    • •   If there is more than one other, they should always be written with an “and” (“Weaver and Jones”). For more than two authors, use the first author’s name followed by “et al.” (“Weaver et al.”)

ACS format also has specific guidelines for how to write a reference list of works that are cited in an article. Books, articles, theses, and reports all have their own formats, and we don’t have space to cover all of them, so we’ll only cover the most basic of each type.

  1. Books
    • •   Weaver, K. The Quick Brown Fox: Did It Jump Over the Lazy Dog?, 3rd. ed.; McGraw-Hill, Boston, 1998.
  1. Articles from scientific journals
    • •   Weaver, K. Jones, B. Roberts, M. Methods of Jumping Over the Lazy Dog by Quick Brown Foxes. J. Am Chem. Soc. 1998, 122, 10033-`0046.
  1. Articles from online journals
    • •   Weaver, K. Solutions for Quick Brown Foxes When Encountering Lazy Dogs. Chem. Ed. [Online] 1998, 11, 383-393 (accessed Nov 14, 2016)

This is only the most basic overview of ACS format, but it should give you the guidance you need to get started. If you need more information, refer to the ACS Style Guide, which contains the entire guidelines for the format.

Laboratory Notebook ACS Format

Scientific Notebook Company (SNCO) is the leading provider of notebooks and writing supplies for students, scientists, and lab workers. For more information, give us a call at 800-537-3028.

Scanning Lab Notebooks Prevents Disaster

Traditional paper laboratory notebooks provide a convenient and versatile means for researchers and other laboratory professionals to document their work. However, paper notebooks can easily be lost or damaged. Scanning your lab books provides a needed backup that will ensure that important records are safe and accessible.

glove hand with lab equipment

Paper-based lab notebooks are here to stay. They’re far too convenient and versatile to ever be replaced by a digital medium. Also, the act of recording notes by hand has been shown to help humans in the retention of information—another great argument for keeping scientific notebooks in research labs.

Although paper notebooks will continue to be an important part of laboratory protocol, there is a place for digital technology in helping to record important information about experiments, studies, and other lab work. Scanning pages from research notebooks into a digital archive will help preserve the information within these critical records. Scanned copies also make reproducing and sharing processes, procedures, and observations from lab professionals easier.

Scientific notebooks are very helpful in the process of documenting research and experience, but they are vulnerable to any number of disasters. They can be lost in transit from one location to another. They can be stolen. They can be damaged and rendered illegible by chemical spills. They can be destroyed in fires or natural disasters.

Loss of the important information contained in these notebooks is an unacceptable risk for research organizations and labs. Millions of dollars may be lost if research organizations do not keep thorough documentation of their work.

Scientific notebooks often play a critical role in the patent process and in legal challenges regarding patents and intellectual property. A properly maintained scientific notebook can provide critical evidence documenting the progression and timing of research and development.

These notebooks also play an important role in allowing researchers see how other researchers arrived at conclusions, allowing them to build upon the work of those who’ve gone before them. Scanning notebooks eliminates this risk.

Modern scanning equipment can create accurate, crystal-clear images of lab notebook pages in full color. These images are typically saved in a document management system that makes accessing needed information convenient. Many have full-text searches that allow data managers to quickly find relevant pages.

Lab staff can scan pages in themselves or turn the responsibility over to a reliable professional scanning operation. Professional scanners can ensure the integrity of the original notebooks are maintained, and that all digital copies of notebook pages are of good quality and are properly saved.

Lab notebooks

Laboratories should make scanning scientific notebooks a key component of their disaster recovery and compliance policies. This digital technology can ensure that lab notebooks that can provide important insight of how discoveries are made or offer important evidence for court cases or patent applications are never lost, making it a worthwhile investment.

SNCO manufactures top-quality laboratory notebooks, patent notebooks, engineering notebooks, and related materials. Founded in 1959, SNCO has provided a durable medium of documentation for generations of the nation’s leading minds in science and medicine.