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!

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

http://chemeducator.org/bibs/1198473897449.htm (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.

Tips for Writing and Submitting Papers to Be Published in Scientific Journals

One of the biggest rewards for scientific researchers is to have their work published in a scientific journal. It allows them to share their success on a project, plus it helps gain exposure for their work. Before you sit down and start hammering out a piece of content you would like to have published, you will want to review these tips and suggestions.

Writing and Submitting Tips

Writing Tips

Writing the piece of content is one of the most important aspects to having it accepted for publication. You do not want to rush through the processes; otherwise, the piece will probably be rejected. The best place to start is to consider the target audience and adjust your writing to fit with their knowledge and educational levels. For instance, if you want to write a piece for teenagers and have it published in a scientific journal that is appropriate for their age group, you need to make sure the content can be easily understood and avoid using jargon that they might not be aware of or know.

Once you have identified your target audience, your next steps should include:

•  Find the Right Journal
• Review the Journal’s Author Guidelines and Scope
• Draft an Outline
• Review, Edit, and Modify the Outline
• Compose the Content
• Verify the Title Reflects the Theme
• Confirm the Abstract Captures the Main Points of the Paper
• Have Your Peers Read the Paper and Provide Feedback
• Revise the Paper as Needed
• Have the Contend Edited/Reviewed by a Professional

 

During the early stages, while you are creating the outline and preparing to write the paper, it is beneficial to review your research notebook and other reference notebooks where you documented your research to ensure you remain on topic.

Review your Research Notebook

When you are ready to submit your paper to the journal, you will want to make sure to include a cover letter. Cover letters provide the opportunity to impress the editors or chief editors of various journal publications. Consider it like having a face-to-face meeting to explain and persuade the editor to publish your paper. Cover letters should include several key components, not just a copied title and abstract from the paper.

• An Outline of the Main Theme
• Persuasive Arguments for the Importance of the Paper
• Justification of the Relevance for the Target Audience
• Acknowledgment of Colleagues and Peers that Already Reviewed the Paper and Their Feedback
Keep in mind, a cover letter should be concise and direct. It is easy to try to fit too much into the cover letter so that it ends up being several pages long. Rather, a good rule of thumb is to limit the cover letter to about half a page, but no more than a single page. Last, remember to thank the editor for his or her time and consideration.
In the event your paper is rejected, review the feedback provided and make revisions to the content before resubmitting it. For all of your lab, research, and scientific notebook needs, please feel free to contact SNCO today at 800.537.3028.

How to Find and Read Scientific Journal Articles

Any scientist worth his or her salt should be reading the latest studies and advancements being released in their field. Of course, keeping up with current scientific writing isn’t always easy. Not only are there many journals which publish scientific writing, but these journals are often hard to acquire, both because of their obscurity and because many of them are kept behind expensive paywalls.

How should an enterprising and intellectually curious scientific researcher go about finding and reading the latest scientific journal articles? We’ve got a few tips on where to start.

Scientific Journal Articles

Take Advantage of University Libraries

Academic institutions play an incredibly important part in developing scientific research. Even when certain research isn’t being done on a campus, the results of that research and much of the important discussion around it will be taking place in universities.

As such, school libraries are one of the best sources for scientific journals. Not only are they likely to have a large collection of new and old scientific journals and articles, but they are a good resource for finding out which journals, in particular, are the most worth reading. If you’re not taking advantage of your local university library, you’re letting a wonderful resource go to waste.

Use Online Search Tools

While doing a regular Google search for academic articles will get you a lot of chaff to wade through before you find what you’re looking for, there are several online search tools made specifically for locating academic writing. These include Google Scholar, ScienceDirect, and IEEE Xplore. All of these tools are great resources for searching out articles on specific subjects or doing a general search to find articles that pique your interest.

Understand the Structure

Scientific journal articles all tend to follow the same structure. First is the abstract, or the summary, of the entire paper. This is followed by the introduction, a section on material and methods, the explanation of the results, a discussion of said results, and, last, a section for any references to other published work that was included. Understanding this structure will not only allow you to make better sense of articles but to find the information you’re most interested in more quickly.

Read scientific journals

Read Both Research and Review Articles

Once you find a good source of scientific articles, it’s important to recognize what kind of article you’re reading. There are two basic types of article in scientific journals: the research article and the review article. The first type is what scientists write when they want to publicize the results of their experiments, and where they explain and defend their findings.

The second type, the review article, is where other scientists who have studied the data related to another group of scientists’ research articles go over the data and either confirm or question the findings. You probably recognize this as the peer review process, which is the heart of scientific research. To get the full range of what is happening in your field of study, it’s important to find not just the original research articles, but to read the responses to them as well.

Scientific Notebook Company is the best source for laboratory notebooks and other supplies for scientists and researchers. For more information, contact us today at 800-537-3028.

Standards for Keeping a Laboratory Notebook

In the scientific community, laboratory notebooks play an incredibly important role. More than being just a place to record random thoughts or observations, the purpose of a laboratory notebook is to exhaustively document experiments and observations to create a permanent, researchable record.

Properly maintaining a laboratory notebook allows for proper peer review, protects the integrity of experiments and tests, and allows scientists and labs to protect their intellectual property rights from unjust challenges.

In order to make sure your lab is doing everything it can to protect itself and its work, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the proper standards for keeping a scientific notebook.

Laboratory notebook standards

Record Everything

The scientific process is one of trial and error. Every step of the process should be documented in detail, so that every bit of information can be analyzed accurately. Even seemingly insignificant details should be recorded in a lab notebook, as controlling conditions exactly can often be the key to a successful experiment.

Make Clear Notes

It may seem obvious, but notes that no one can understand are essentially useless. In order to make sure that the records you keep are understandable, make sure to clearly note what you are talking about on any given page. Also be sure to include any sketches, diagrams, or other information that is necessary to understand the data.

Use Consecutive Pages

Using consecutive pages in your notebook (as opposed to skipping pages) allows lab scientists to create an accurate, chronological record of their work. This makes it easier to review the progress of an experiment and to protect the intellectual property of a lab if ownership of data is ever challenged.

While no scientist likes to think that they will have to contest the ownership of their data, the sad truth is that some unethical people will try to claim other people’s work as their own. When IP ownership is disputed, the party that is able to show records of the creative process – and their involvement in it – is the one that will win the case.

Lab notebook standards

Write in Ink

Laboratory notebooks should be written in ink so that everything recorded in them is permanent. By writing in ink, lab workers can be sure that no one can alter the data without leaving behind evidence. Also, since pencil writing can easily smear or become illegible, records made in permanent ink will last longer and are easier to read.

Have Coworkers Sign the Pages

In order to create an accurate record of the experiment process, lab scientists should have colleagues regularly review their pages, and then sign and date them to prove that they have performed a review. This step serves two purposes: It creates a system whereby laboratory work is regularly checked and reviewed for errors, and it also establishes a record of when data was recorded.

Need to stock up on laboratory notebooks? Contact Scientific Notebook Company today at 800-537-3028 for a full selection of notebooks and supplies for scientists and laboratories.

How to Protect Your Intellectual Property Using a Laboratory Notebook

It’s the worst nightmare of every laboratory scientist: After spending months or years working on an experiment, you find out that someone has stolen your ideas and tried to claim your discoveries as their own. Intellectual property theft is a very real threat to the livelihoods and reputations of scientists—one that should be guarded against at all times.

The good news is that there are steps scientists can take to protect themselves against intellectual property theft, and it all starts with their laboratory notebook.

Scientific intellectual property

Know Your Rights

The first step in protecting your intellectual property is understanding how IP laws work. The good news is that, unlike patent law, intellectual property and copyright law protect the party that first created an idea, not the party that first tried to register or market it. As long as you can prove that you were the one to come up with an idea, you can protect your intellectual property from anyone who might try to steal it.

Use a Bound Notebook with Numbered Pages

Since proving who came up with an idea or generated a data set is the heart of any intellectual property case, the first step to guarding your laboratory IP is to make sure you use the right notebook. Any notebook you use in the lab should be bound (so that pages can’t be added or taken out without leaving evidence) and should have numbered pages. If the pages don’t come numbered, add your own to every page.

Sign and Date All Pages

When you record information in your notebook, be sure to sign and date every page before the day is over. It doesn’t matter how insignificant the data on a page might seem – protecting your IP means being able to show every step of the process. For even more security, have at least two other people who understand the science behind what you are doing, and sign and date the pages so that there is additional corroboration.

Intellectual property protection

Date Any Changes

Laboratory notebook pages should be written in ink, and any changes should be made by crossing out the old information and adding a note when new information is added. Anytime a change is made, initial and date the changes so that there is a record of when the changes were made. Do not use whiteout, and make sure that the crossed-out information is still visible.

Cross Out Unused Page Space

If any part of a laboratory notebook doesn’t have any writing in it, cross it out by drawing a diagonal line through the entire unused portion. This includes both pages that are completely blank and any unused portions of a partially marked page. By crossing out the blank spaces, you can show that no additional information was added after the fact.

Scientific Notebook Company’s laboratory notebooks are the perfect tool for every hard-working laboratory scientist. View our inventory online today, or contact us at 800-537-3028 for more information.

How to Determine Cleanroom Classifications

A cleanroom is a controlled environment where the concentration of airborne particles is kept within specified limits according to the classification of the cleanroom. Contaminants are produced through the manufacture or other process performed there, and they are brought into the cleanroom by people and the equipment they use.

This is why using the appropriate equipment such as the cleanroom notebooks from Scientific Notebook Company is so important to maintaining the environment. Since it is impossible to prevent the release or introduction of airborne particles into the room, the air system must continually remove them according to the standards required for the classification.

Laboratory notebooks for cleanrooms

The classification of a cleanroom depends on a number of factors, including the type of industry in which it falls. Other questions that must be answered are what are the sources of contamination, the size of particles that need to be filtered out, and the amount of air needed in circulation to remove the contamination.

To control the contamination in the room, air flow rates, direction, temperature, pressure, humidity, and specialized filtering must all be considered in the air flow system and kept under control at all times.

The Significance of Particle Size on Classification

Different types of particles vary in size. To determine the classification, the engineer must determine if a specific size of particle, various sizes, or a specified range of particle sizes need to be filtered out. The standard classification for cleanrooms is assigned based on the number and size of airborne particles for every cubic meter of air in the room. The ISO cleanroom standards according to ISO 14644-1 are depicted in the table below.

CLASS                                                    MAXIMUM PARTICLES/M³                                                                 US FED STD EQUIV

≥0.1 µm

≥0.2 µm

≥0.3 µm

≥0.5 µm

≥1 µm

≥5 µm

ISO 1

10

2.37

1.02

0.35

0.083

0.0029

ISO 2

100

23.7

10.2

3.5

0.83

0.029

ISO 3

1,000

237

102

35

8.3

0.29

Class 1
ISO 4

10,000

2,370

1,020

352

83

2.9

Class 10
ISO 5

100,000

23,700

10,200

3,520

832

29

Class 100
ISO 6

1.0×106

237,000

102,000

35,200

8,320

293

Class 1,000
ISO 7

1.0×107

2.37×106

1,020,000

352,000

83.200

2,930

Class 10,000
ISO 8

1.0×108

2.37×107

1.02×107

3,520,000

832,000

29,300

Class 100,000
ISO 9

1.0×109

2.37×108

1.02×108

35,200,000

8,320,000

293,000

Room Air

Cleanroom Criteria

Cleanroom Criteria

A lot of standards are determined according to the cleanroom classification. The light fixture type, filter coverage percent, filter efficiency, types of wall system, flooring base and cover, and type of ceiling are determined according to the classification.

There are additional specifications that must be followed for any cleanroom in order to maintain the cleanliness of the environment. Clean room lab notebooks and other paper products, along with wipers, pencils, and other commodities must be screened. If specific cleanroom notebooks are introduced to the cleanroom, they should be removed from the wrapping inside the room and remain in the environment throughout their use.

Cosmetics may be banned from the cleanroom to prevent particles of sodium, silicon, or other particles from forming. Cleaning products and procedures should also be followed, specifically for Class 10,000 cleanrooms. Once the classification of the cleanroom is determined, the requirements should be followed to the letter to ensure optimal cleanliness and a controlled environment.

To learn more about our clean room paper products, call us at 800-537-3028 and make sure you maintain the appropriate environment in your cleanroom.

Why Every Cleanroom Needs a Cleanroom Notebook

In order to perform their intended function, cleanrooms need to be specially cared for and maintained. Used in industries such as manufacturing, technology, and the sciences, cleanrooms are controlled environments where airborne particles, fumes, and other pollutants are kept at specific levels in order to avoid contamination.

Maintaining such an environment in a way that keeps it free of contamination requires the use of special clothes and equipment, including cleanroom notebooks and paper that are designed specifically for use in such sterile workspaces.

Cleanroom paper

What Makes Cleanroom Notebooks Special?

Cleanroom paper needs to meet two criteria: It needs to be usable in sterile environments without introducing contaminants into the air, while also able to be used functionally in a regular office environment. Notebooks that are being used tend not to stay in one place; they move around and get taken to different rooms, depending on where they are needed.

While most people don’t realize it, bringing regular paper into a cleanroom environment is one of the easiest ways to contaminate it and de-sterilize the area. Regular paper is made of cellulose, or wood pulp and fibers, which gives off a large number of particles into the air. Though these particles are invisible to the naked eye, they are more than enough to compromise a cleanroom. The more a piece of paper is used, the more particulates it gives off.

Despite the dangers of bringing paper into a cleanroom, most people who work in one need something to write on. Since cleanrooms are often the site of experiments, product tests, and experimental development, it is essential for cleanroom workers to be able to record their thoughts and the results of their work in a convenient, timely manner. As such, specially-formulated cleanroom paper is an essential part of every cleanroom environment.

Unlike regular paper, cleanroom paper is made from special low particulate filler and latex-coated fiber. Whereas paper made from cellulose particulates very heavily with use, this specially treated cleanroom paper is designed to give off as few particulates as possible, allowing it to be used safely in sterile spaces.

cleanroom environment

TexeWrite 22 from SNCO

Scientific Notebook Company’s TexeWrite 22 Cleanroom Laboratory Notebooks are the only notebooks on the market made from specially designed synthetic cleanroom bond stationery, making them a tool for taking notes in a sterile work environment. Additionally, each notebook page is sewn and bound with Mylar-sealed covers, and every notebook is cleaned and double packaged to ensure as few contaminants as possible are released through use.

If you work in a cleanroom environment and are concerned with maintaining the integrity of your workspace, then choosing the right writing tools is essential. Scientific Notebook Company understands the importance of cleanrooms and what it takes to keep them clean, functional, and uncontaminated by even the smallest particles.

Want to learn more about SNCO’s specially-created cleanroom notebooks? Contact us today at  800-537-3028 to speak with one of our representatives or to learn more about our special use products.

3 Ways to Make Your Notebook More Personal

If you’re a student, engineer, or scientist, then you probably spend a lot of time with your laboratory notebook. Since you and your notebook are going to be spending so much time in each other’s company, why not put a little effort into making your notebook into something a little more exciting and reflective of your personality?

For those of you out there who want their notebooks to stand out from the crowd, we’ve got three suggestions for how you can make your notebook more personal.

Personalize a notebook

Start a Chronology

If you’re going to be keeping a lot of notebooks, especially on related topics, then this is a simple and convenient way to personalize your notebook and help keep your notebooks straight. Once you start a new notebook, give it a title, volume number, and a start date. You can record this information on the first page, in the top or bottom corner, or as part of a larger design for the cover. It’s up to you!

Create a Cover

Most notebook covers look very similar, making them hard to distinguish from each other and, more importantly, kind of boring to look at. Adding a cover to your notebook is an easy and fun way to make yours stand out and give it a little more character.

If you ever created a cover for your textbooks in high school, you know the deal: Take some construction paper, newspaper, or other paper; arrange it into a large section slightly larger than the notebook when fully opened; fold and tape the ends to create sleeves that slip over the notebook cover and hold it in place.

Be sure to choose something that reflects your personality or to decorate it in a way that shows the world it’s yours. It can be anything from a simple title with your name and address to a showcase for your drawings.

Add Some Pockets

Tired of opening your notebook only to realize that you forgot your pen or pencil? Adding pockets to your notebook is a great way to make sure you always have the writing utensils you need. Just follow these steps:

  1. Measure your notebook’s inside cover; make sure you leave space on the sides of the pockets or else the notebook won’t close.
  2. Cut a piece of paper to meet your measurements, and then attach it to the inside cover with glue squares.
  3. Next, cut out the pockets, leaving about 1 inch of height difference between each one.
  4. Take 2-3 self-seal lamination pockets and tear away the backing; lay the lamination pocket down sticky side up and trim off any excess lamination, using the paper as a guide.
  5. After one side of all the pockets has been laminated, place more glue squares on the sides and bottom of each pocket.
  6. Use the glue squares to attach the pockets to the notebook, stacking them on top of each other.

Personal Notebook

Need more notebooks? Scientific Notebook Company has what you need. Contact us today at 800-537-3028.