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Copyright (C) Peter Rony 2015 All rights reserved.
I am a chemical engineering educator by profession. This PDF is an important STEM activity that is targeted for teachers starting at level 3 and continuing to level 12. It is not sufficient to have just a laboratory course. As much as possible, students should obtain quantitative “data” as a result of their experiments -- and not just qualitative observations. With their data, they should create tables and figures that are included in the “Appendix” of their report. The students should then write five or six brief conclusions that are based upon the figures and tables. Now what? The student should discuss each conclusion and explain (like a lawyer) why each conclusion must be correct. The discussion is extremely important because a reader may not know how to interpret the figures and tables. Then, based upon the conclusions, the student should write an Abstract, which might be read by students in Kuwait, Indonesia, Zimbabwe, Slovakia, or Nepal (please note my interest in geography).
But . . . the student is not finished. He or she now must write the following sections, which I call “frosting on the cake”: introduction, experimental procedure, theory, software, and hardware. These additional sections are not nearly as important as the Appendix, Conclusions, Discussion, and Abstract sections. The “frosting-on-the-cake” sections should be written last, and in the simplest types of reports, they can be omitted.
The above process for writing a report can be used for any type of what I call a “technical communication”. Examples of different types of technical communications include a poster presentation, an oral presentation to a class, an Internet communication). Technical communications are extremely important at all educational levels. It would be a tragedy if our next generation becomes the driving force for a tweet-and-text society.