Accuracy and Precision Lab (with measurement and density)
In this lab exercise, students make measurements using common lab equipment and practice a wide range of calculations. It serves as an introduction to lab measurement and calculation for a physics or chemistry course.
In this lab exercise, students are introduced to various measurement tools (ruler, graduated cylinder, triple beam balance) and taught how to use them and correctly record data (correct number of significant figures). Students calculate density, and are introduced to its dependence on temperature. Calculations of accuracy (percent error) and precision (average deviation) are also emphasized, as is the correct use of significant figures.
Context for Use
This lab will take 30-60 minutes of class time for data collection, depending on the skills of the students. Prior to this lab, students should be introduced to measurements, significant figures, percent error, and average deviation. It works well near the beginning of a course.
Subject: Chemistry:General Chemistry, Physics:General Physics:Mathematical Physics, Measurement/Units, Mathematics
Resource Type: Activities:Lab Activity, Classroom Activity
Grade Level: High School (9-12)
Description and Teaching Materials
Materials required: Ruler calibrated in millimeters, 100 mL graduated cylinder, thermometer, centigram balance, metal shot (~50 g of one metal for each group, vary metals: I used copper, zinc, and nickel), room temperature water
Other notes: see Teacher narrative for accuracy and precision lab (Microsoft Word 27kB Sep21 09)
Student handout for accuracy and precision lab (Microsoft Word 43kB Sep21 09)
Teaching Notes and Tips
Teacher should check data to be sure it is recorded with the right number of significant figures and units. Teacher should check answers to the questions at the end of the lab.
184.108.40.206.4 reliability of data
9C.220.127.116.11 significant figures, accuracy, and precision
9P.18.104.22.168 significant figures, accuracy, and precision
References and Resources