Name:
(
)
Class:
Schoolbased Science Practical Assessment (SPA)
Skill set 1 – Performing and Observing Skill set 2 – Analysing Skill set 3 – Planning
Each candidate is to be assessed only twice for each of skill sets 1 and 2 and only once for skill set 3.
PRACTICAL GUIDELINES
A list of suggested practical work is provided below.
• Measurements of length, time interval, temperature, volume, mass and weight using the appropriate instruments
• Determination of the density of solids and liquids • Determination of the value of free fall • Investigation of the effects of balanced and unbalanced forces • Verification and application of the principle of moments • Investigation of the factors affecting thermal energy transfer • Determination of heat capacities of materials and latent heat of substances • Verification and application of the laws of reflection • Determination of the characteristics of optical images formed by plane mirrors • Verification and application of the refraction of light through glass blocks • Verification and application of the principle of total internal reflection • Investigation of the properties of images obtained through a thin converging lens • Determination of the speed, wavelength and frequency of sound waves • Measurements of current and voltage by using appropriate ammeters and voltmeters • Determination of the resistance of a circuit element using appropriate instruments • Investigation of the magnetic effect of current in a conductor • Investigation of the effects of electromagnetic induction
This is not intended to be an exhaustive list. Reference may be made to the techniques used in these experiments in the theory papers but no detailed description of the experimental procedures will be required.
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When taking readings, it is important to note the uncertainty of the instrument used. The table below shows the uncertainty of some common measuring instruments.
Smallest 

No 
Apparatus 
Divisi on 
Uncertainty 
Examples of recording 

1 
Ammeter (0  1 A) 
0.02 
A 
0.01 
A 
0.20 
A, 0.21 A 
0.1 
g 
0.1 g 
121.0 
g, 121.1 g 

2 
Electronic balance 
0.01 
g 
0.01 
g 
121.10 g, 121.11 g 

3 
Half metre rule or metre rule 
0.1 cm 
0.1 cm 


4 
Measuring cylinder (100 cm ^{3} ) 
1 cm ^{3} 
0.5 cm ^{3} 


5 
Micrometer 
0.01 mm 
0.01 mm 


7 
Spring balance (0  10 N) 
0.1 
N 
0.05 
N 


9 
Stopwatch (digital) 
0.01 
s 
0.01 
s 
28.11 
s 
10 
Thermometer (–10 ∞C to 110 ∞C) 
1∞C 
0.5 ∞C 


11 
Voltmeter (0  5 V) 
0.1 
V 
0.05 
V 

(1)
All readings must be recorded to the right degree of accuracy according to the apparatus used.
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Headings and units
(2)
In the table of readings, you should include headings to indicate the quantities that are being measured and the units they are measured in.
e.g.
unit
quantity measured
L / cm 
t / s 
(3)
If the table contains quantities that are calculated from certain measured values, the units should be derived accordingly.
e.g.
derived unit
(4)
Since the units are already written at the heading, the readings recorded in the table should not be written with units.
(5)
Workings should not be shown in the table as well. Only the calculated value is to be written in the table.
Table 1 
Table 2 

l / cm 
t / s 
1/l / 
t ^{2} /s ^{2} 
l / cm 
t / s 
1/l / 
t ^{2} /s ^{2} 

cm ^{}^{1} 
cm ^{}^{1} 

1.02 
0.0167 
60.0 

1.02 
^{2} = 

cm 
1.04 

1.24 
0.0142 
70.0 

1.24 
^{2} = 

cm 
1.54 
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Range chosen
(6)
The range of the readings taken should be as wide as possible.
The tables below shows two possible range of readings chosen for quantity x that lies between 0 cm to 100.0 cm.
Table 1 
Table 2 

x 
/ cm 
m/g 
x/cm 
m/g 

10.0 
10.0 

30.0 
20.0 

50.0 
30.0 

70.0 
40.0 

90.0 
50.0 

Table 1 is preferred because its range of 80.0 cm (90.0 – 10.0) is larger than the range of 40.0cm (50.0 – 10.0) in table 2. 

Intervals 

(7) 
The readings should be taken at uniform interval. 

uniform interval 
nonuniform interval 

x 
/ cm 
m/g 
x/cm 
m/g 

10.0 
10.0 

30.0 
20.0 

50.0 
40.0 

70.0 
60.0 

90.0 
90.0 
Graphs are plotted to show the relationship between two quantities.
The quantity that you choose to control (independent variable) is usually plotted on the x axis. You should vary this quantity in regular steps in the experiment.
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The quantity that is dependent on the quality that you vary (dependent variable) is plotted on the yaxis.
Drawing the correct graph
(8) 
If you are required to plot a graph of A against B, that means, A is plotted on the Y axis and B is plotted on the Xaxis. 

Scale 

(9) 
If a scale is suggested, follow it. If not, choose a suitable scale for both axes so that the graph occupies as much space as possible on the graph paper. The graph should occupy at least half of the space on the graph paper. 

y

y 

y 

Poor X scale
x
Poor Y scale
x
x
Poor X and Y scale
(10) Make use of the entire grid. Do NOT leave a margin before drawing the axes.
(11) Since the graph is made of 2cm squares, some convenient scales you can choose are:

2 cm rep 1 unit , 2 cm rep 2 units, 
2 cm rep 5 units or multiples of these. 
(i) DO NOT use scales like 


2cm rep 3 units, 2 cm rep 7 units and other awkward scale. 
(ii) DO NOT use 3 squares as the interval e.g. 3 cm represent 2 units
You will have problem reading off values from such scales. A large proportion of marks will be lost when such a scale is used.
(12) You are not required to start the graph from (0,0), unless the question requires you to do so.
(13) You must label the value at the origin of the graph.
(14) The x and y axis do not need to start from the same number and do not need to have the same scale.
(15) If x and/or y axis did not start from zero, it is NOT necessary to show the
compressed scale symbol. (
)
(16) The number of significant figures on the scale should be the same as the number of significant figures in the table of results.
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Labelling the axes
(17) Each axis should be clearly labeled with the quantity that is plotted on it. The unit for the quantity should also be stated. i.e. quantity/unit
mass/g, L/cm, current/A DO NOT label like this: mass (g), L (cm) etc.
Plotting the points
(18) 
Points should be plotted accurately with a sharp pencil. 
(19) 
Neat little crosses should be used. (Diagonals of cross should not exceed a 2 mm 
by 
2 mm square) 
DO NOT use ink or dots for plotting.
Drawing the line or curve
(20) The line or curve drawn should be sharp and thin.
(21) It should be continuous with no break in between.
(22) 

DO NOT shade the line or curve. 

y 


x 

(23) 

DO NOT use ink to draw the line or curve. 

(24) 

DO NOT join the points with a thick line. 

y 

x 
The points used are obtained experimentally so do not expect them to lie in a perfect straight line or smooth curve.
(25) You should draw the best fit line through the plotted points. Ensure that the number of points on each side of the line are roughly the same. The perpendicular distance from the points on both side to the line should also be roughly the same.
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(26)
DO NOT simply join the first and last points together ignoring all the other
points in between. The first and last point may not be the most accurate points.
Determining the gradient of the graph
(27) Follow the steps below to determine the gradient of the graph:
(i) Select 2 points on the graph that are at least ¾ the length of the line apart. Avoid using plotted points.
(ii) Label the coordinates of the two points.
(iii)
Draw a triangle with dotted line using the 2 points.
(iv)Substitute the coordinates into the formula Y _{2} Y _{1} / X _{2} – X _{1} to calculate the gradient.
The calculation of the gradient should be to 3 significant figures.
Reading off from the graph
(28) If
you are required
to
read
off values
form the
graph, always use dotted lines to show how the
reading is obtained. The values should also be indicated on the axis.
(29) Data values should be read
from the
line
to
an
accuracy better than one half of the smallest
squares on the grid.
Intercepts
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(30) If the yintercept (value of y when x = 0) of a straight line graph is required, ensure that the xaxis of the graph starts from zero.
(31) Similarly, if the xintercept (i.e value of x when y is zero) is required, then the yaxis should start from zero.
y
x
X and Y has a linear relationship
is directly proportional with a positive gradient. to X.
y
x
*Y
*Y is proportional to X only if the graph is a straight line that passes through (0,0).
y
x
X and Y has a linear relationship with
directly proportional to –X. a negative gradient.
y
x
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Y
x
Y is
8
As X increases, Y increases as well .
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'Sources of error' refers to errors that are inherent in the experimental process or instrument. It cannot be eliminated or avoided totally.
'Sources of errors' are not steps that students have done wrongly in the experiment. Hence you cannot write the following as sources of error because they can be avoided.
E.g
“the pins were placed
less than
5
cm
apart”,
“The mass may not be measured
accurately”, “The distance between the mass and the pivot is recorded wrongly”.
Parallax error is not a source of error because it can be avoided by placing eyes at the correct position.
When writing sources of error, besides stating what the error is, you must explain what effect the error has on the reading / accuracy of the experiment etc.
Some examples of Sources of Error
Note: Different experiments may have different sources of error depending on the instruments given and the procedure. You must not write a standard source of error without taking into consideration the experimental aim and procedure.
Type of Experiment 
Possible sources of error 

When measuring the dimension of an object 
The dimension of the object may not be uniform. 

Experiment that requires timing. 
Human reaction time may contribute towards random error. 

Oscillating object 
Presence of air resistance does not allow the object to oscillate freely. 

Object moving along a surface 
Friction of the surface will slow down the motion. 

Heat experiments 
There is loss of heat to the environment. 

Lenses experiment 
There is a range of distance in which the object appears sharp hence it is difficult to determine the exact position in which the image is the sharpest. 

Experiments using optical pins 
Holes made by the pins are quite big hence it is difficult to construct the rays accurately. 

Electricity experiment involving the use of resistant wire 
∑ 
The resistant wire gets heated up and the resistance of the wire will change. 

∑ 
There are kinks in the wire and thus wire cannot be straightened on ruler. 

Electricity experiments 
∑ 
There 
is 
contact 
resistance 
at 
the 
points 
of 
∑ 
connection. The battery is not ideal and has internal resistance. 
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“Precautions' are actions taken to reduce errors and improve accuracy.
Below are some precautions to be taken:
∑
a) LIGHT Using optical pins
For accurate location of rays, fix pins more than 5.0 cm apart.
∑ 
Use protractor or setsquare to ensure pins are placed at right 
angle 
to 
the 

softboard. 

Using mirrors 

∑ 
Place silvered surface reflecting surface. 
of 
the 
mirror on 
the 
line 
you draw 
to represent the 

Using lenses 

∑ 
Fixed lens upright on the lens holder. 

∑ 
Place illuminated object at the same level as the centre of the lens. 

∑ 
Measure object and image distances along a line parallel to the principal axis of the lens. 



∑ 
Tighten all connections in the circuit to reduce contact resistance. 

(*This can be checked by shaking/tapping the connecting wires lightly at each part of the circuit and observe the ammeter's reading. If the reading fluctuates, it means there is a bad connection in the circuit.) 

∑ 
Switch off circuit immediately after a reading is taken to avoid unnecessary heating of resistor / resistance wire. Wire’s resistance will change when it is heated. 

∑ 
Press the jockey firmly onto the wire but do not exert so much pressure that the wire is deformed. 

∑ 
Correct any zero error on the ammeter and voltmeter. 

∑ 
To avoid parallax error, the meters (voltmeter and ammeter) must be read with the eye directly above the pointer such that the image of the pointer in the mirror overlaps with the pointer. 

∑ 
Make sure there is no 'kink' in the bare resistance wire especially when you have to measure the length of the wire accurately. 
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c) 
HEAT 

∑ 
Take temperature only when it is relatively steady as the thermometer needs time to respond. 

∑ 
Stir the liquid using a glass rod (not a thermometer!) continuously to ensure a uniform temperature. 

∑ 
Transfer substances e.g. liquid/solid 
quickly to 
reduce 
heat loss 
to 
the 

surroundings. 

∑ 
Insulate the containers to avoid heat 
loss to the surrounding. (This 
is 
applicable only when the objective of the experiment is not to investigate rate of heat loss
to the environment).
∑ 
The thermometer should not be touching the sides of the container it is in. It should be in the middle of the liquid you are measuring the temperature of. 

∑ 
Read the thermometer with eyes placed at the same level as the meniscus to avoid parallax error. 

∑ 
The bulb of the thermometer should be completely submerged. 

d) 
MECHANICS 
Timing oscillations
∑ 
Start timing only when oscillations are steady so as to ensure a constant period. Reject timing when the object starts to oscillate in a different plane. 
∑ 
Repeat timing and use the average timing to reduce random errors due to human reaction time. 
∑ 
Keep the amplitude of oscillations small (less than 10 ^{o} ) as the oscillation tends to get unsteady when the amplitude of oscillation is big. 
∑ 
Reduce draught in the room by closing the windows and switching off the fans. 
∑ Start and stop timing as pendulum passes the lowest point of its oscillation (i.e. centre of oscillation). Use the retort stand to mark the centre of the oscillation. Pendulum passes this point at greatest speed and there is least uncertainty in the timing.
Measuring lengths
∑
Take measurements (e.g. thickness of a rod) at different positions to obtain average value as object may not be uniform.
Balancing rulers horizontally
∑ 
To ensure that the ruler is balanced, measure distances of both ends of the 
ruler from benchtop and ensure that they are roughly equal. 

∑ 
Reduce draught in the room by closing the windows and switching off the 
fans.
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To measure height from the bench top
∑
Hold the ruler vertically using the set square against the bench and the
flat side of the ruler.
Note: Parallax Error
If you want to state ‘reduce parallax error’ as a precaution, you must elaborate by stating what has to be done to reduce the parallax error.
E.g. (1) When reading the measuring cylinder (or thermometer), parallax errors can be reduced by viewing the reading at eyelevel and at the meniscus.
(2) When reading meteres such as voltmeter, ammeter, parallax errors can be reduced by viewing the pointer from directly above such that the pointer coincided with its image.
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