Physics practical investigations are an important part of your Year 11 & 12 Physics course. They are compulsory and weigh at least 60% of your overall school assessment mark.
Physics practical investigations involve the collection of primary data. They may include
In this article we’re going to discuss:
The essential scientific skills required for practical investigations are listed below.
You’ll need to be demonstrate a high level of competency in these scientific skills prior to planning your physics practical investigation.
For a detailed explanation on the essential scientific skills, read the Matrix blog ‘The Beginner’s guide to Physics Practical Skills‘.
When designing a practical investigation, you’ll need to apply the scientific method illustrated in the flowchart below.
The scientific method consists of four main stages:
The scientific method is explained in the table below.
|Stage||Steps and Explanations|
|Questioning and predicting||Step 1: Theory|
A practical investigation must be designed based on a hypothesis or a theory. For example, a practical investigation involving projectile motions can be based on the equations of motions.
Step 2: Aim
Using a theory, we can make a prediction. This is the aim of the experiment.
|Planning investigations||Step 3: Method|
To design a valid controlled experiment, write the method by:
When writing the method, we must ensure each step incorporates reliability, accuracy and validity. The purpose for the method of an experiment is to provide a clear instruction on how to conduct the experiment validly whilst improving accuracy and reliability of the results.
|Conducting investigations||Step 4: Results|
To conduct investigations:
|Analysing data||Step 5. Quantitative analysis of results: Graphs and calculations|
To analyse data:
Step 6: Qualitative analysis: Evaluation of method and errors
To discuss experimental errors and suggest improvements
For more information on analysing and evaluating data, read Physics Study Guide Part 2: ‘How to Study for Year 12 Physics Data Analysis Task‘.
When writing the Physics practical investigation report, it should include:
Let’s apply the scientific method to plan, design, conduct and analyse the practical investigation.
For a step-by-step explanation on how to write a practical report for your depth study, read this article, ‘How to Write a Practical Report: Depth Study Report Template’.
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