Teacher accusing me of cheating?
Hi! I am taking a chemistry lab this year for my biology major (chem 1212L) and I was doing pretty good in it until I received my last lab report back. What would have been my grade of 100 was deducted 30 points and a warning was written on the paper that my data points were too similar to my lab partner's and that if I repeated this mistake I would be reported. At one point during the lab, my partner and I were supposed to be recording changes in time and changes in temperature. I watched a timer and read temperatures off a thermometer to my partner as he wrote them down. As I was doing this I jotted down some of the numbers myself but did not get them all. After the lab, I asked my partner to send me the data points I read to him to see if there was any I had missed. This was the extent of the communication I had with him. I completed the rest of the lab on my own without any outside help.
For the lab report, we were supposed to plot the temp vs time data we collected in lab and make a trend line. When we received our reports back, I was confused to see that we had been accused of cheating by copying each others graphs. I never once saw my lab partner's final graphs, and I was confused as to how we would have different results if we collected the data in lab together and both did the lab correctly. I emailed my teacher stating that I was confused and asked if she would help me understand what I had done wrong. She said
"you did not use your graphs to determine your melting points. This is where you will have different data because you graphed them separately and had different lines of intersection but your numbers were his numbers. Don’t look at his report again and write down what you see on his report. This is your warning"
I still don't understand where I would have gotten different numbers because we both collected the same data and there were no calculations or anything in between the time and temp data we collected in lab and what we had to plot on the graphs (the melting point is where two lines of best fit intersected in the data points). Even when I had asked to look at the times he recorded, for the most part I had written down the same thing in between looking at the timer and thermometer, and wouldn't they be the same anyway?
I also don't understand how I could've had different lines of intersection than my lab partner yet still have his (our) numbers. All I did was enter the data into excel and hit "make trend line", so if the data is the same, wouldn't the trend line have to be as well?
The teacher had discussed this with my lab partner, but never discussed it with me. I had to ask him what we did wrong and he could not explain what she had told him because he said he didn't understand her reasoning. He stated that she was very angry and there was no way that she was giving us the grade back. Amidst her questioning him he said that he had shared with me the numbers that he recorded when I was reading off the thermometer, but she claims I was looking at his report?
I don't know what to do at this point. Was asking my lab partner about those data points cheating even though we were both there collecting the data together? I don't want this to go on my record but I'm afraid if I bring it up again she will be harsher on me in class. Help?