home » students » Prac Investigations

Practical Investigations

New Physics Study Design

In the new study design the Practical Investigation is a separate Area of Study, both in Unit 2 and in Unit 4. The number of variables has also been specified with two variables in Unit 2, one of which must be continuous, while in Unit 4 both must be continuous.

In Unit 2 the report of the investigation can be by a scientific poster, but in Unit 4, the report must be in the form of a scientific poster. Some examples of posters, advice and helpful hints are provided below.

 Type

Filename

Filesize

Microsoft Powerpoint

VCE Lecture for Students on Practical Investigation

3.56 MB

The lecture that was given as part of the VCE Lecture series for students on 18th May, 2017.

Microsoft Word

Notes for VCE Lecture for Students on Practical Investigation

41 kB

Notes for the slides in the powerpoint presentation fortThe lecture that was given as part of the VCE Lecture series for students on 18th May, 2017.

Adobe PDF

Practical Investigation Information Booklet

112 kB

This 14 page booklet is designed for students doing Unit 4 Practical Investigation. It is a Word document and tecahers can customise it to suit their needs. The table of contents covers: What will you be doing?, What do you get out of the Practical Investigation? , Deciding on a topic, Identifying variables, Formulating a plan, A Timeline, Hints for the students, Using the log book, Taking measurements and analysing data, Assembling a poster. There are also 7 appendices including a short list of topics.

Possible topics

Files on planning

 Type

Filename

Filesize

Microsoft Word

Topics for Practical Investigations

110 kB

This is the list of PI topics that were used as part of the Small Group Activities at the 2017 Physics Teachers' Conference. Each of these topics has detailed titles to provide guidance to students. Also added at the end of this list are detailed titles that offer more challenge. At the end of the list there are topics with short titles that students will need to unpack.

Microsoft Word

List of topics for the Unit 2 Practical Investigation

62 kB

This seven page document lists topics from the Nuffield physics course that are relevant to the Unit 2 Practical investigation. The topics are sorted in the Motion Area of Study and the 12 options. There are also topics for other areas of physics at the end.

Microsoft Word

Practical Investigation Topics for Units 3 & 4

115 kB

10 pages of topics grouped by Area of Study. Some have a catchy title with a supportive paragraph, most have self-explanatory titles.

Log Book

The log book is a significant part of your investigation. It is where you keep everything from:

  • your initial ideas for topics,
  • plans for their approved topic,
  • summary of relevant physics,
  • all your measurements, calculations and graphs,
  • photos of equipment and the experiments,
  • reflections on how the investigation is going, difficulties faced and how they were overcome,
  • reflections on how the investigation could have been improved and suggestions on what you would next investigate if you had more time,
  • to a draft of a conclusion.

The logbook can be a hard copy exercise book or an electronic folder on the school's website, but it should be in a format that the teacher can readily and frequently access, and annotate as needed. It is the logbook that shows that the investigation is your own work. It is where the full story of the investigation is told. It should be like a diary, with period by period entries of what has been done and what is planned for the next class. Most of your teacher's assessment will be based on it.

Data Analysis

Scientific Poster

The scientific poster should be a summary of the investigation, just the bones and the highlights. It is not a full report, the logbook provides the details and gives flesh to the bones.

The poster should have the following sections:

  • Title: Question under investigation is the title.
  • Introduction: Explanation or reason for undertaking the investigation, including a clear aim, a hypothesis and/or prediction and relevant background physics concepts
  • Methodology: Summary that outlines the methodology used in the investigation and is authenticated by logbook entries. Identification and management of relevant risks, including the relevant health, safety and ethical guidelines followed in the investigation.
  • Results: Presentation of collected data/evidence in appropriate format to illustrate trends, patterns and/or relationships
  • Discussion: Analysis and evaluation of primary data. Identification of outliers and their subsequent treatment. Identification of limitations in data and methods, and suggested improvements. Linking of results to relevant physics concepts.
  • Conclusion: Conclusion that provides a response to the question
  • References and acknowledgments: Referencing and acknowledgment of all quotations and sourced content as they appear in the poster.

The poster can be done as an electronic poster using a template containing the categories listed above, with text entered or pasted into boxes. Some websites that provide templates and tips are listed below.

 Type

Filename

Filesize

Microsoft Powerpoint

Template for Scientific Poster

87 kB

A PowerPoint slide template for a poster with sections for each of the categories required of VCE posters. Each category has a short desciption of what should pasted there.

Microsoft Powerpoint

Template for Scientific Poster by UNSW

57.3 kB

A PowerPoint slide template for a generic poster based on one prepared by Medical Illustrations Unit of the University of New South Wales.

Adobe PDF

Unit 2 Poster: Air pressure in a soccer ball

255 kB

The effect of the internal air pressure on the distance travelled. A poster by a Year 11 student of their practical investigation.

Adobe PDF

Unit 2 Poster: Mechanical properties of impurities in Ice

848 kB

The effect of adding sawdust to ice on its mechanical properties. A poster by a Year 11 student of their practical investigation.

Adobe PDF

Unit 2 Poster: Terminal velocity of a parachute

285 kB

How does the mass of the object attached to a parachute affect the parachute's terminal velocity? . A poster by a Year 11 student of their practical investigation.

Adobe PDF

Unit 2 Poster: Tipcat - Maximising horizontal flight distance of a ruler

1.17 MB

A poster by a Year 11 student of their practical investigation.

Adobe PDF

Unit 2 Poster: EPI Experiment: Tipcat

5.36 MB

Investigation of the horizontal flight distance of a ruler hit from the edge of a table. A poster by a Year 11 student of their practical investigation.

Microsoft Word

Comments on the Unit 2 Posters

48.6 kB

Feedback provided to the Year 11 students identifying aspects done well and areas where improvement was possible. The Unit 2 posters commented on are available on this webpage.

Files on Video analysis

 Type

Filename

Filesize

Adobe PDF

Video Analysis for Everyone

181 kB

Workshop A17 by Kevin Barraclough, Gisborne Secondary College

Resources

Texts

  • McKittrick, B 1991, Physics Experiments and Student Investigations, McGraw Hill.
  • O'Keeffe, D & Embury, J 1992, Investigating, STAV Publishing.
  • Walker, J The Flying Circus of Physics with Answers, Wiley, New York.