## Method of Attack

First, read and annotate the task sheet and then spend some time researching a topic or experiment that you are interested in. Once you've selected your experiment begin your student experiment in this order: Modifications, Research Question, Rationale, Data Tables, and then conduct the experiment. Doing it in this way will give you the most efficiency while completing the experiment. It may seem obvious but fully understanding what you’re ‘supposed’ to do before starting the experiment is more important than you may think. The rest of the assignment can be followed as below.

Now below is a breakdown of how I recommend presenting your report.

## Student Experiment Report Structure

### Writing the Rationale (350-450 words):

The rationale provides background information about your experiment.

**1) Explain the purpose of the investigation, the topic and scientific concepts.**

This requires 1 or 2 sentences about the relationship being explored in the report. Then, explain the topic and how it’s relevant to your task. Make sure to include formulas that surround your experiment.

**2) Break down your specific experiment.**

- Label control, independent and dependent variables.
- A quick summary of the method, and what the experimenter did (e.g. switching power on and off).
- Expected/theoretical results;
- Future graphs.
- Label the relationship between dependent and independent variables (e.g linear).
- Table of theoretical data from equations and controlled variables.
- Expected gradient and y-intercept of the linear graph.

The last sentence should be a summary of the modifications to the original experiment.

### Research Question; What’s this report about? (20-40 words)

A research question (RQ) is like checking things off a shopping list.

- Beginning phrase e.g. Does, what, how.
- Independent variable effect on the dependent variable
- Some but not all control variables.
- State the domain and increments for variables.

### Method, what did we do?

**Original method:**

Identify what the original experiment did in a sentence, then refer to the appendix (chuck the full original method there).

**Modifications, what did we change? (100-125 words):**

I recommend doing this in a table like the one below. Remember to have at least two modifications (refinement, extension, modification or redirection), state you have modified from X to Y and justify.

### Risk Management, was everyone okay? (100-120):

This is kind of fiddly. It’s a small paragraph where we explain two risks of the experiment.

- Identify risk
- Why it’s a risk?
- How was it managed?
- Ethical issues (no plants, animals and/or humans were harmed).
- Environmental issues (no pollution, no materials discarded).

### Displaying Our Results (100-120words):

**1) Raw Data Table**

The collected data from the experiment. I recommend 5 trials for each set. Do not have any calculations, but include measurement uncertainties, symbols and units.

**2) Processed Data Table**

- Display averages of trials.
- Percentage uncertainties for dependent and independent variables
- Values to show the dependent variable is linear to the independent variable
- Each column is rounded to the same significant figure and all appropriate symbols and units are shown.

**3) Outliers/Standard Deviation**

Analysing previous data tables for outliers through standard deviation calculations. I recommend going to 2-standard deviations. A sneaky way to ensure they are no outliers is to twist your data! As long as it looks legit it's fine and it saves the hassle of having to explain them.

**4) Sample Calculations**

An example of how each calculation was made for the processed data table. List them off in separate rows with the equation, include examples and show some of your maths brain here.

**5) Main Graph**

- Appropriate titles (including x-axis and y-axis with symbols and units)
- Linear trend line.
- Linear equation with symbols filled in for x and y, gradient and y-intercept.
- R^2 value
- Minimum and Maximum gradients.
- Error bars.

### Our Trends, Patterns and Relationships (130-160words):

Identify trends, patterns and relationships from your data.

- Trends – the general tendency for a set of data to change.
- Are there clear trendlines in your data?
- What are the equations of the trendlines? (state them!)
- How strong is the fit? ( value)
- Patterns – the repeatability of a set of data.
- Are there repeated values/patterns within and/or between sets of data trials?
- What are they and how can they be quantified/described?
- Relationships – the effects of the independent variable on the dependent variable.
- Provide the final equation.
- Is there a proportional relationship between variables?
- What is the mathematical term for this relationship?

### Uncertainties (30 – 50words):

Were the uncertainties big or small, and are they acceptable? What caused these uncertainties? I recommend referring to the experiment and values in the processed data table.

### Limitations (100 – 125words):

- Have 2.
- How/why was the data limited to answer your RQ?
- Assumptions made during data collection (factors that were ignored).
- Domain of your data samples (should you have increased it?).

### Evaluation, did we do a good job?

**Reliability (110 – 130words):**

- The precision - repeatability of results
- Was there sufficient data for a trend? (number of trials, sample size)
- Were there similar results for each trial?
- Were there certain modifications that made your results more reliable?

**Validity (230 – 260 words):**

- Accuracy of results, are they valid?
- Were all control variables controlled?
- How far away were experimental results from theoretical numbers (gradients, y-intercepts, tables – from rationale!)
- Theoretical uncertainties of control variables for a range of theoretical calculations
- Were the experimental values in this range?

### Conclusion/Interpretation of Evidence, we’re nearly at the end! (approx. 250words):

- Directly answer RQ using the evidence.
- What do graphs show for the RQ?
- What did you observe from the data (use numbers!)?
- Mention the uncertainties and their role.

### Improvements (50 – 70 words):

Two improvements. This addresses systematic and random errors to make your report more precise and accurate.

### Extensions (50 – 70 words):

Two extensions. You could address limitations and/or different relationships of the equation and/or increase the report's scope.

### Final Tips and Tricks

- Constantly proofread your work.
- Ask your teacher questions and have them read over small sections for you. They will often tell you what they expect.
- Try to make the report as ‘pretty’ as possible. We want the marker to see it as professional.

Ultimately, remember that an average person should be able to understand your report. I recommend giving it to a sibling or parent to have a read and see if they can follow the ideas. Who knows maybe they might learn a thing or two from you!

## Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

### How much is the IA2 worth?

20% of your year 12 internal Physics grade.

### How do I stay under the word count?

- Symbols and units instead of words.
- Formulas, diagrams and images to explain concepts.
- In-text referencing for Physics facts
- Proof-reading always helps

### Where can I find an example of an IA2 Physics Student Experiment?

Take a look at the annotated IA2 example on the QCAA website. This helps to understand the ISMG. However, I recommend only seeking examples after having written a plan or parts of your report to avoid plagiarism. Remember there’s no one right answer!

Want more personalized study guidance to help drastically improve your marks? A private tutor can make the biggest difference!

Written by KIS Academics Tutor for QCE Physics, Specialist Mathematics and Mathematical Methods, Ragulan Gnanavel. Ragulan is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Actuarial Studies and Commerce at UNSW. He has outstanding tutor credentials, and you can view Ragulan’s profile here and request him as a tutor.