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140 HSW-The Use of Tables in Pracical Work

140 HSW-The Use of Tables in Pracical Work

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How Science Works - The Use of Tables inPractical Work
www.curriculum-press.co.ukNumber 140
 F actsheetP hysics
Name of dependent variableAverage of readings 1, 2 & 3
(unit of dependent variable)
Name of independent variable
(unit of independentvariable)First valueSecond valueThird valueFourth valueFifth valueSixth valueSeventh value
Name of dependent variableReading 1
(unit of dependentvariable)
Name of dependent variableReading 2
(unit of dependentvariable)
Name of dependent variableReading 3
(unit of dependentvariable)
Almost every time you carry out practical work you need to producea table of results.Getting the table right is important both to make your results usefuland to make sure you get good marks in an exam!There are a number of points to think about when drawing up yourtable:First of all
‘the basics’
:– make sure each column has:
The correct
The correct
Also, the
independent variable
should be shown in the
first column
of your results table.
Independent variable firstAlways do at least two
and make sure your results tableshows you have done this. This may mean you will have to carryout the experiment three times under the same conditions.When you have done your repeats, take an
for each valueof the dependent variable and show this average in your table.This means, that even before you start collecting results, your tableshould look something like this:At ‘A‘ level, you should be investigating a
minimum of 5 values
for each variable – ideally more. This is so you will have enough readingsto be able to
draw a good graph
– and also so you can investigate a
big enough range
of values for the independent variable. If the rangeyou choose is too small then your conclusions may not be valid.
Gathering results
Minimum of 5 values of the independent variable
Each value tested 3 times
Average values taken
Appropriate range of independent variables investigated.
Appropriate interval between values of the independentvariable
So how would this look in practice?Let’s imagine you have been investigating a cooling curve for water.You have first carried out a preliminary experiment to gauge howlong it takes boiling water to cool to room temperature – this allowsyou to decide the time period that will need to be covered in yourexperiment. You have concluded that it takes about 20 minutes toreach room temperature so you decide to take measurements every2 minutes.
140. How Science Works - The Use of Tables in Practical Work 
Physics Factsheet
Only part of the data gathered is shown in the table below.
TimeTemperature 1Temperature 2Temperature 3Average temperature
 Exam Hint:-
 It’s worth doing atrial run to decide on anappropriate range of values for  your independent variable analso to decide on the best intervalbetween values e.g. do you takereadings every 10 seconds, everyminute etc.
Let’s look a little more at
your results.Sometimes you use your results to calculate the value of a quantity.For example, you may measure the current through a resistor and the voltage across it in order to measure its resistance.
At which point do you take your averages?
You could:
do your resistance calculations first then average them or
you could average your current and voltage values then use the average values to calculate resistance.The second method is better – to illustrate this:If you had only taken measurements for 10 minutes you might have missed important information about the change in the rate of coolingas time goes on.SupplyCurrent 1Current 2Current 3AverageVoltage 1Voltage 2Voltage 3AverageResistancevoltagecurrentvoltage(V)(A)(A) (A)(A)(V)(V)(V)(V) (
612SupplyCurrent 1Current 2Current 3AverageVoltage 1Voltage 2Voltage 3AverageResistancevoltagecurrentvoltage(V)(A)(A) (A)(A)(V)(V)(V)(V) (
612The value of resistance for each value of supply voltage wouldthen be calculated by dividing the average voltage across the resistorby the average current through it – using the figures in
in thetable above.The table above has all the measurements you have taken and allthe values you need together in one place.It’s much better to do this than to have several tables that you thenhave to keep cross-referencing.So – for example, the set up below is
as useful as the compositetable we had above.SupplyCurrent 1Current 2Current 3Averagevoltage (V)(A)(A)(A)current (A)
612SupplyVoltage 1Voltage 2Voltage 3Averagevoltage (V)(V)(V)(V)Voltage (V)
612SupplyAverageAverageResistancevoltage (V)current (A)voltage (V)(
612If you have to have information shown in separate tables then youmust make sure that common information appears on all the tables.For example, in this set of three, all the tables have the “SupplyVoltage” column included.
Composite tables
Composite tables are usually better than a series of separatetables.
Physics Factsheet
140. How Science Works - The Use of Tables in Practical Work 
Anomalous readings
What do you do if any of your readings seem to be anomalous?Repeating your readings helps you identify anomalous results.Once you have identified them, you need to decide whether toignore them or not. You can really only make this decision if youknow they really are anomalous.
How do you know if a result is anomalous?
Repeat the reading. Is the result the same every time you repeatfor that value of independent variable?If it is, it may not be an anomalous result but it may be a featureof the effect you are investigating.If it is not repeatable, then assume it is anomalous and ignore it– do not include it when you average your readings.Identifying an anomaly is easier if your readings are arranged in alogical order – by going from the lowest value of the independentvariable to the highest (or, sometimes, from the highest to thelowest). Taking your results in a random order is not good practiceand it makes your results table much harder to interpret - so don’tdo it!So what if you find that you need to investigate a particular sectionof your results further - let’s say you have found that somethingodd seems to be happening when the supply voltage is 4V in theexperiment above so you decide (very sensibly) to see what happenswhen the supply voltage is 3V and 5V.You will need to redraw your table to put the 3V and 5V readings inthe right place – don’t just tag them onto the end!
 Exam Hints: anomalies
always check out anomalies
 you may need to redraw your table if you investigate newvalues of the independent variable – to keep the values inthe independent variable column in a logical orde
r.SupplyCurrent 1Current 2Current 3AverageVoltage 1Voltage 2Voltage 3AverageResistancevoltagecurrentvoltage(V)(A)(A) (A)(A)(V)(V)(V)(V) (
612SupplyCurrent 1Current 2Current 3AverageVoltage 1Voltage 2Voltage 3AverageResistancevoltagecurrentvoltage(V)(A)(A) (A)(A)(V)(V)(V)(V) (
And what about
the numbers
themselves?Things to look out for include:
make sure the numbers in every column are written to the same number of decimal places. The number of decimal places should reflecthow accurately you can measure the quantities. For example, if you can measure mass to within 0.01 of a gramme, then a mass of twogrammes should be written as
not 2g.
Take care in deciding how many significant figures to use when you write each value. Keep this realistic and in line with the adviceabove rounding up or down as appropriate when filling in values you have calculated.
Make sure the number of decimal places is consistent withineach column.
The number of decimal places should be consistent withhow accurately you can measure a quantity.
Use a sensible number of significant figures

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