Suggesting Improvements (Edexcel International A Level Physics)

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Katie M

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Katie M

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Physics

Suggesting Improvements

  • Improvements to an experiment help make it more reliable and reproducible to gain more trust in the results
  • A common method is to use digital methods of data collection where possible
    • These subsequently reduce uncertainties that are a result of human error (e.g., reaction time)

Software & Tools

  • Graph plotting and data analysis software, such as Microsoft Excel, can be an invaluable tool
    • Spreadsheets provide a very effective way of processing data, particularly when the amount of data is large
  • Cameras can be used to take photos in experiments that happen too quickly to read a scale
    • A camera can be used to take a photo burst as the experiment happens
    • The scale can then be read from the photos afterwards
    • If the time each photo is taken is known, or if the frame rate is known, then properties such as velocity can be calculated

Data Loggers

  • Data loggers are a tool that allows for the quick and efficient gathering of data
    • They are more accurate, quick and reliable than manual logging
  • The information contained within a data logger can be inputted into a computer and formatted into a table
  • After this is done the computer is able to calculate the average and plot graphs using the data and calculate gradients which quicker and more accurately than humans

  • They are electronic devices that automatically monitor and record environmental parameters over time such as temperature, pressure, voltage or current
    • It contains multiple sensors to receive the information and a computer chip to store it

Datalogger

A data logger measuring and displaying temperature using a probe

  • The benefits of using data loggers and ICT (information and communication technology) include:
    • Readings are taken with higher degrees of accuracy
    • Reduction of human error (e.g. human reaction times, subjectiveness)
    • Readings can be taken over a long period of time e.g. hourly readings of temperature over many days
    • Readings can be taken in a very short period of time, which would be too quick for humans to see a difference
    • Reduction in safety risks with extreme conditions such as measuring the temperature of boiling water

Computer Modelling

  • Computer modelling is commonly done in conjunction with devices such as a data logger
    • Modelling is about processing the data collected from a physics experiment into software or a spreadsheet
  • Graphs and charts can be generated from a table of values
    • These can then be exported to a scientific report
  • One of the benefits of these computer programs is that time can be sped up to predict the future outcome of an experiment

Computing Modelling, downloadable AS & A Level Physics revision notes

Computer modelling uses a computer and sensors to analyse and display data

Making Methods Reproducible

  • To improve upon an experimental method, it could be made more reproducible
    • This is the ability to be properly reproduced for other scientists to also see if they get the same results
  •  For example, when measuring the resistivity of a wire, a constantan wire may be used
    • If the same method is used to measure an accurate value of the resistivity of copper or aluminium, then this means the method is properly reproducible 
  • A further discussion of similarities and / or differences between the three wire materials can then be analysed 
  • Another example could be when measuring the count rate of a gamma ray source
    • By using a more or less active source, more differentiation in their readings can be achieved

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Katie M

Author: Katie M

Katie has always been passionate about the sciences, and completed a degree in Astrophysics at Sheffield University. She decided that she wanted to inspire other young people, so moved to Bristol to complete a PGCE in Secondary Science. She particularly loves creating fun and absorbing materials to help students achieve their exam potential.

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