Working Scientifically with Form 8
To kick start the Common Entrance science revision process, Form 8 undertake a 6-week topic focussing solely on science skills, at the start of the Lent term. These are essential skills for life after school should they choose to follow a career in the sciences, but are also very important for exam success in June.
We cover how to plan and carry out an experiment successfully, fairly and safely, how to accurately record results, how to display and interpret results with charts and graphs, the process of evaluating results and drawing conclusions and finally the structure of a basic scientific report.
We carried out four lab practicals on Hooke’s Law, friction in cars, huddling behaviour in penguins and diffusion in liquids.
As a culmination of this work, Form 8s were asked to plan and carry out an investigation of their choice, including risk assessment and sensible lab practice. This year the class came up with some fantastic experiments and we all thoroughly enjoyed our week.
The lab faerie resourced all the experiments using an equipment list provided by the groups.
Group 1: Does eating chocolate have an effect on heart rate?
Research shows that just 10g of dark chocolate will have a significant effect on heart rate. Lucy, Hannah C, Anna and Molly tested their resting heart rate and then ate either white, milk or dark chocolate to see if the differing cocoa contents of the chocolate would affect their heart rate differently.
There was a marked difference between the three types of chocolate, with dark chocolate having the strongest effect on heart rate, as expected.
Group 2: Which liquids make the most foam?
Thomas and Mac tested equal volumes of different liquids or mixtures of liquids – soap and water, bicarbonate of soda and vinegar, whisked egg white, whisked cream and ‘elephant’s toothpaste’, (a mixture of hydrogen peroxide, soap and yeast).
The elephant’s toothpaste came out on top, making 2l of foam from just 150mls liquid, with bicarb and vinegar coming in a close second with 1.6l of foam.
Group 3: Which fuel has the most energy?
Callum, Caelen and Archie wanted to see which fuels contained the most energy. They weighed out 3g of wood, fire lighters, 99% ethanol and shop bought meths and used them to heat 20mls water.
Fire lighters produced the biggest temperature increase followed by ethanol, then meths and wood coming last.
Group 4: Which mixture will produce the best crystals?
Following on from some work on saturated solutions, Jake and Oli planned to make a variety of saturated solutions to see which one made the most crystals. They used sugar, salt, borax and alum.
The alum crystals were the most successful, although all 4 solutions produced good results.
Group 5: Does age affect hearing range?
As part of our work on sound waves, we all took a test in class to determine our hearing range and found that age (Mrs Stuart had the smallest hearing range) did affect our hearing. Amelie, Lara, Eliza, Mhairi and Rosie decided to take test subjects from across the school to see if there was a noticeable difference from Form 1 up to Form 8. They used an online program that runs a hearing range test that lasts about two minutes.
Here you can see Fergus R indicating that he can hear the sound by placing his hand on his head. We may carry out a few more tests among the staff if there is time…
Group 6: Does sense of smell deteriorate with age?
There is plenty of evidence to show that younger children have a better sense of smell than adults. To test this theory, Libby, Hannah F and Emma chose 6 distinctive smells (cinnamon, chocolate, mint, coconut, curry and orange) and asked pupils from across the school to identify them.
The results were inconclusive as lack of experience made it difficult for younger pupils to find the vocabulary for certain scents, often searching for the right word – chewing gum for mint or apple pie for cinnamon. One scent that was easy to identify for all ages was chocolate!
Now all that is left to do is to write up our findings – once the reports are complete they will be displayed outside the lab and you are welcome to come and take a look.
Mrs M Stuart
Jules Birdsall, 13/02/2019