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Tips for Middle School Physical Science Classes

When writing lab reports, be sure to describe all steps, including arranging your supplies and taking safety precautions, so another person could replicate it exactly. Make conclusions based on what you already know; don’t make things up. If the experiment did not go as expected, think about reasons why the results were not the expected ones and how the experiment could be improved. Think up realistic improvements--ask, “How could I do this using more effective lab supplies or methods?”

Correlation does not equal causation: just because two things are happening at the same time does not mean that one is causing the other.

Results of a study or experiment do not “prove,” anything, they merely “suggest” something.

If you choose to listen to music to block out distractions, choose an instrumental track or classical music so the music itself is not particularly distracting.

Use any study resources that your teacher gives you for standardized tests or other finals.

When performing labs, be sure to follow all safety instructions. Safety is no joke, particularly in advanced high school classes (AP/IB) in which toxic chemicals are commonly used.

Always use pencil and graph paper when drawing graphs. Using a ruler does not hurt either!

Science is a topic that often takes a few exposures to one topic to understand. If your teacher provides any supplemental resources, such as articles or videos, be sure to look at them even if they are not part of a graded assignment.

In middle school, you will not generally be required to use toxic chemicals. However, you should still follow all safety requirements, such as washing your hands and wearing goggles, because these are smart practices that you will need to utilize in high school and college.

You may be required to make observations of experiments that your teacher performs, such as harsh chemical reactions. Make sure to connect your observations to what you have discussed in class in order to best demonstrate your understanding of the subject.