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Keeping a science notebook can be a lot of fun. It’s not very difficult to do, and if it’s done well, it’s something you will be proud of for years to come. (The first science notebook I saw when I was a kid was one that my father wrote when he was a kid!) Because this is new to a lot of kids in the club this year, I thought I’d work up an example of how I might do it if I were on the build team. I’ll post some pages from that here, and hopefully also (eventually) some creative pages from member books.

I like to keep my notes fun, and I like to fill empty space with doodles or squiggles—not unlike Vi Hart describes—but I also like to keep the information neat, consistent, and organized. For this book, I sat down with my son and started to draw the Table of Contents. (I think he was a little surprised by how I styled the words.) We worked together to identify parts of the machine, and he was eager to take over after only a few lines. By the time we got to listing some hardware, I started a new page with some drawings and details. When I went back to list the drawings in the Table of Contents, we suggested that I continue numbering them, counting down from zero. I think he enjoyed the idea that the notebook could have some personality.


These guidelines were handed out with blank Science Notebooks to both the primary and secondary leads of each team (except for the maker team). The kids got right to work on setting them up properly.

Here are some guidelines for setting up your science notebook. Take a lot of notes as you work through the project, both during and outside of meetings. You can add to it at any time with any ideas you have or things you learn about or discover — you don’t need to wait for meetings or group work. Science notebooks are important because they will help you track your work and serve as a future resource for you and others. Plus you will have a detailed record of your discoveries and the science behind them.

  • On top of the very first page, write “Table of Contents.” This will be a running list of the entire contents of your notebook, and will include the date, the title, and the page number of what’s included in it.
    • On the top of the left column (to the left of the leftmost line), write “Date.”
    • Write “Title” at the top of the middle column.
    • Write “Page” at the top of the right-hand column (to the right of the rightmost line).
  • You can fit about 15-20 entries on each page, so leave six pages blank (three sheets), and write the number “1” on the upper right-hand corner of the fourth sheet. This is the page number.
  • One the top of Page 1 (the right-hand side of the fourth sheet) write the date followed by a title, and your initials. Because we’re starting this with a meeting, you might write “16 Nov. 2012 – Team Meeting #2 (AF).” Underline the title to indicate that it should be found in the Table of Contents. Next, go back to the table of contents, and enter the date, title, and page number on the first line, like so:
  Date    Title                               Page
11/16/12  Team Meeting #2 (AF)                  1
  • Write on (and number) the front and the back of every page, and don’t skip any pages unless you’re making room for lists, and try not to skip a lot of lines. It’s okay to have more than one new topic (and Table of Contents entry) on a single page in the notebook.
  • You can write notes and add entries at any time.
  • If you make a mistake or correction, cross it out with a single line so that the original is still readable. Sometimes it’s very handy to see what someone wrote before it was corrected, especially if it’s a change in some data.
  • For our club, the Science Notebooks stay with the team leaders, even if those leaders change from time to time.