AS

& A-Level Science Practical’s will start from Tuesday (15th September

2020) at

GreenHall Academy Gulberg Campus.

__Physics__

**What are the practical skills required for physics and why do you need them?**

The practical skills

involved are:

–

manipulation, measurement and observation, the collection of simple data to an

appropriate accuracy, choosing the right range and distribution of values

–

presentation of data and observations in a table

–

analysis, conclusions and evaluation, using and justifying the correct number

of significant figures

–

plotting of a graph and calculation of a gradient. In the second paper this

involves the use of logarithms and plotting error bars on graphs

–

estimating the uncertainties in measurements made and identifying the most

significant sources of uncertainty

–

calculating the uncertainty in the value of a calculated quantity made from two

or more measurements each with their own uncertainty

–

evaluation of the method involved and suggesting improvements

–

planning an experiment, including identifying dependent and independent

variables and quantities that remain constant, identifying any risks involved

Developing practical skills

prepares students for studies beyond A Level in physics, engineering or in

physics-dependent vocational courses. Practical’s also help students

develop abilities and skills that are useful in everyday life and encourage

safe practice. These practical skills help to develop attitudes such

as a concern for accuracy and precision, initiative, inventiveness and a spirit

of enquiry.

These

skills are important in employment and go far beyond mere knowledge of facts. A

good practical course also helps to develop an interest in the

subject of physics itself and complements the study of the theory, showing that

scientific theory is ultimately grounded by experiment. The amount of practical apparatus

required does not have to be enormous because working within the resources

available is another useful ability. It’s important to remember that students

can learn a lot from practical work that goes wrong as well as

from experiments that work perfectly every time.

** ****What are the main challenges for students carrying out practical work?**

Many

students at A Level may not have had much experience of practical work

and may not consider themselves to be very ‘practical’, but there is no need to

be afraid of simple experiments. Students need practice in setting up simple

apparatus and to be happy in carrying out the experiment by themselves.

When a student has enough experience of simple apparatus then they face the

challenge of writing a method where they must choose the apparatus and method

for themselves. This might be for an experiment that differs from any that they

have previously seen and shows their inventiveness and initiative.

Students

may also believe practical work to be a mathematical exercise where

there is a right and a wrong answer. This is not the case. Every reading has an

inherent uncertainty and students need to be happy to estimate uncertainties in

simple quantities, such as the measurement of length and time by either

repeating readings or taking the smallest scale reading on the instrument used.

They also need to realize that the uncertainty is only an estimate and is

itself not exactly known.

There

are a few mathematical challenges, particularly for those not studying

mathematics at A Level. These include the use of logarithms and combining

uncertainties, where a real familiarity with percentages is a useful skill.

However, the average student can learn the necessary skills with a reasonable

amount of application.

**What are your 5 top tips for students for practical work ?**

1)

Think actively about every topic. Do you understand what is going on? If not,

then ask a question.

2)

Know how to estimate uncertainty as the smallest scale division or, better,

half the range in the readings.

3)

After every experiment write down:

–

the steps that you actually took during the experiment

– whether each quantity was dependent, independent or kept constant

– major difficulties

– improvements

4)

Realize that readings in a table are measured, usually, to the same precision,

i.e. to the same number of decimal places, but that calculated quantities

should be given to the smallest number of significant figures in the quantities

used in the calculation.

5)

Take care when plotting graphs.

–

does your graph cover half the page horizontally and vertically?

– does it have units on both axes?

– check your points are accurate

– use a long ruler when drawing a straight line

– show your working in finding the gradient

**Chemistry**

** **

**5 tips for students by GreenHall Academy**

1)

Remember that practical work is important; it is a component of your

examinations. Therefore, make the most of whatever practical experience

that you are given and don’t think of it as relaxation time away from theory

work.

2)

Remember that practical work is related to the rest of the syllabus.

If you are not sure why you are doing the practical – ask your

teacher to explain. When you are told that you will be doing a practical investigation,

write down what you think are the aims of the practical work and what

you hope to get from it.

3)

If you have a practical partner, then agree responsibilities. For

example, if you are measuring the rate of a reaction by following the change in

the volume of gas produced, one of you can measure the time and help countdown

to the next reading, while your partner can read the volume.

4)

If you are going to do an assessed practical, then ask your teacher what

criteria she or he is going to use when allocating the marks.

5)

Try and maintain a good balance between your awareness of safety and a

confident use of the apparatus. You should by now know how to use a Bunsen

burner safely and the difference between gentle heating and strong heating,

even some advanced level students think that gentle heating involves a yellow

Bunsen burner flame. The practical workbook has

a chapter on basic techniques. If this textbook is available, then take a look

at this chapter.

__ __

__Biology__

**What are the practical skills required for biology and why do you need them?**

Before

they can embark on AS & A Level practical work with confidence,

students should be familiar with the use of a typical school laboratory. This

includes things such as balances, measuring cylinders, beakers, pipettes (or

syringes), heating apparatus and thermometers. It is also important that students

know how to work safely when carrying out practical work.

A

knowledge of basic biochemical tests such as the tests for starch, glucose,

protein and lipids is useful as these are often revisited at AS & A

Level. There is also an assumption that students are aware of simple

tests from Cambridge IGCSE™ chemistry, such as using universal indicator paper

and testing for using limewater to test for carbon dioxide gas. These chemical

tests are often used when carrying out practicals at AS and A Level

biology.

Students

should also understand how to plan valid experiments with standardized

variables and repeats. They should also know how to draw results tables that

display data effectively. Evaluating the design of simple experiments, such as recognizing

the level of accuracy of equipment is also a useful skill to reinforce before

AS & A Level. All these skills help to provide a good foundation upon which

to build.

** ****What can be the main challenges for students carrying out practical work ?**

For

biology experiments, results can often be unpredictable! Living organisms often

do not respond in the ways that we expect. For example, a piece of pond weed in

an investigation into the effect of light intensity, may not photosynthesis due

to several reasons. Students need to be patient, accept that all results are

valid and explore the reasons for results not being as expected. Many students

think that getting unexpected results is essentially the mark of a bad

experiment – in reality, getting the ‘wrong results’ can be a learning

experience in itself. Students should also not be scared to ‘have a go’ and be

encouraged to try again if something did not seem to work first time.

**What are your 5 top tips for students ?**

1)

Be confident and keep trying even if a technique is difficult

2) Don’t expect results to always go the way you planned – remember that living

organisms can be very different to one another

3) Work safely – always wear eye protection and risk assess everything

4) Be organized – keep all your equipment tidy on your bench

5) Enjoy practical work – it is your opportunity to apply your

knowledge to the real thing

A-Level

Science Practical’s will start from Tuesday

(15th September 2020) at

GreenHall Academy Gulberg Campus.

Registrations

Open.

For

Details:

GreenHall

Academy Gulberg Campus:

0312-5314148,

<www.facebook.com/greenhallacademygc>

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