Saturday, January 21st, 2017


A good notebook serves many potential purposes.
1. It is a valuable record of what you have seen, heard, discussed,and thought about.
2. It may contain the data, which will lead to an oral presentation,project, or a paper which may be used for extra credit .
3. It will be a graded portion of your geoscience class.
4. It may be something you and your relatives will find interesting decades in the future. (My grandmother kept a phenology notebookand I still cherish her observations.)

For one or more of these reasons, keep your notebook in a safe place. Occasionally a student has lost their notebook and they find it difficult to do well on tests, quizzes and future investigations. A science notebook should enhance and not interfere with learning. Don't write down everything your teacher or group says without thinking about it or asking questions. You are not a tape recorder; filter the information through your brain. Neatness and organization are essential. Efficiency may be important; use standard understandable abbreviations (e.g., lbs, cm, m, in, ºC, ºF, etc.). A labeled sketch may be more valuable than 100's of words.


1. Write your name with indelible ink on the front and back of yournotebook.
2. Consider putting a title on the inside and an abbreviated title onthe outside (e.g. Geoscience Class 2011-2012).
3. Consider gluing or taping into the notebook (near the backand/or front) one or more of the following: maps, lists, geologictime scale, stratigraphic columns, Atmosphere diagrams, weatherstation model/symbol identifications, checklists of data to berecorded etc.
5. How is your notebook going to be organized? One way is to putobservations and sketches on the right, and interpretations andquestions on the left.


1. General location: area of town (e.g. school yard), county, state park, nearest town, etc.
2. Weather: temperature, precipitation, wind velocity and direction(winds are named from whence they come), humidity, cloud cover,visibility, etc. This information may be pertinent to soils or vegetation, or may help you remember the day and/or location. If the weather varies much during the day, note the changes.
3. If your particular focus is geology, mention the vegetation. That may be important clues to the geology (e.g., particular plants grow on certain rocks). Record approximate age of landforms like moraines and rocks. Limestone and sandstones around Northfield are about 450 million years old while the moraines north and west of Northfield have an age of only about 10.000 years. Note things like, resistance of the rock to weathering and erosion when you are looking for fossils at a road cut or outcrop.
4. If your particular focus is biology, mention the geology. Plant distribution is greatly influenced by bedrock types, landforms, and soils.Particular plants have specific requirements for moisture (soil porosity and permeability) and trace elements (mineralogy) Burrowing animals may prefer one soil or sediment to another. The flora and the fauna are very much influenced by aspect (the direction a slope faces) due to temperature and moisture differences, and by drainage (e.g., a wetland vs. a hilltop).


P/P/C is a simple way to look at writing up your investigations.
Purpose: Why are you doing this investigation/lab/observation?
Procedure: How did you do it? What did you collect
Conclusion: What did you learn? what else would you like to know? 
Other things to consider:
1. Specific site. This location should be described accurately enough so that you could get back here. It might include a street address, latitude and longitude or UTM co-ordinates, elevation, aspect, which side of stream, how far and in what direction from a landmark, etc.
2. Data on whatever may be relevant: Temperatures, pressures, flow rates, humans, animals, plants, ecosystems, rocks, sediments, soils, structures, landforms, pollution, etc.
3. Consider drawing and labeling a sketch, diagram, map, or cross-section. A good general rule-of-thumb is one sketch per site or investigation, but some require more and some need none. Remember, a sketch can be much better than, or can reduce the length of, a written outline. Do not worry if you don't think you're an artist. You never will be if you don't try, and your sketches will improve with practice. Would color help? Some sketches stand alone without labels but most will require labels.  Sketches should have titles (e.g., Global Winds Diagram, Hunter Peak across Clarks Fork, Indian paintbrush on Barn Bluff). Most sketches need lots of labels (e.g. Winds, Frontal systems, rock types and ages, landforms, fauna and flora). Maps and cross-sections need scale, and orientation (e.g., north arrow or direction of view).
4. Multiple working hypotheses, questions, tentative interpretations and conclusions (e.g., the geologic or human history as determined at this specific site).
5. Notes about photographs taken. What is it? What is the scale? What direction are you facing? Some people prefer to record photos site by site; others record all photos in a separate section of the notebook.


1. Review your notes. Is there anything that might be important that you remember now but did not note during the investigation or in the field?
2. Consider re-entering data into a computer for analysis and/or separate storage.
3. Summarize the day's observations, hypotheses, conclusions, etc.
4. Do you need to revisit any of the questions or sites?