Mini investigation

What are my objectives while studying this topic?


The first part of this unit is intended to get you into the habit of doing an extended applied investigation under controlled conditions. It is intended that most of the planning of this preliminary investigation has been done for you in the form of a detailed Standard Procedure, but you must find suitable local contexts for your preliminary mini-investigation, and fill out a suitable planning sheet.


You have a choice of ONE of three different preliminary mini-investigations:


  • Hold on to the heat

  • Is fresh best?

  • That’s the spirit


You’ll be required to carry out these investigations using the same controlled conditions that are required for their full individual investigation.


Definition of standard controlled conditions


Can I get an introduction to this topic?


Yes, why not have a look at the following clips:


Scientific method




Scientific method



Scientific method song



What are the main objectives for each part?


Planning an investigation


  • Identify a suitable vocational context and organisation for your investigation

  • Develop a suitable investigation and decide its aims, scope, purpose and applicability to the chosen vocational context


In your investigation you should research and identify:


  • Suitable practical techniques for obtaining primary data either by existing standard procedures, or by modifying standard procedures, where relevant

  • Appropriate apparatus, equipment and facilities that will enable you to obtain accurate, repeatable and precise primary data, and organise their use in conjunction with the relevant technical staff at your centre

  • The appropriate scientific knowledge, theories, concepts or ideas behind your investigation

  • Suitable health and safety regulations, (including CLEAPSS information), and use these regulations to produce suitable risk assessments for any practical procedures undertaken

  • Any environmental or ethical issues associated with your investigation and develop suitable protocols to deal with these issues

  • Any constraints on your investigation, and adapt your standard procedures to deal with them


Carrying out the investigation


  • Review and modify experimental planning; implementing suitable changes during experimental procedures

  • Comply with suitable health and safety regulations, as identified in your risk assessment.

  • Carry out suitable practical techniques for obtaining primary data using the identified standard procedure(s) in your plan, or by modified standard procedures, where relevant

  • Collect accurate, reliable and precise quantitative and/or qualitative data; checking and making changes or repeating procedures as required

  • Record primary and secondary data and information in suitable standard formats, and, if numerical, to an appropriate degree of precision

  • Complete the investigation in a suitable time frame, and submit the report to deadline

  • Use suitable standard sampling techniques to collect a representative sample where appropriate


Processing and presenting data in the investigation


  • Record primary and secondary data and information in suitable standard formats, and, if numerical, to an appropriate degree of precision, using the correct units

  • Arrange and group data and information by type, as appropriate to the data

  • Use standard calculations and/or graphical methods, as appropriate, to process any data collected

  • Use standard methods to identify and treat any anomalous data collected; and suggest reasons for the anomalies

  • Present data and/or results in suitable, meaningful and effective graphical formats


Evaluation of the investigation


  • Interpret your results and draw valid conclusions based on the data and information collected, and with reference to the stated aims, purpose and context of your investigation

  • Evaluate your results, identifying and quantifying any sources of error, and stating the steps that you took to minimise them, or would take if repeating the investigation

  • Evaluate the methods or techniques used in the investigation, and, if appropriate, give suggestions for improvement

  • Discuss the significance of any conclusions in terms of the context and the identified organisation


Presenting the outcomes of your investigation


  • State the vocational context and identified organisation for your investigation

  • State the aims, scope and purpose of your investigation

  • Produce a clear, logical, well structured and concise report of your investigation

  • Use the correct scientific terminology, spelling, punctuation and grammar, formats and conventions correctly to produce your written report


What are the key words to learn and use?


  • Standard procedure

  • Risk assessment

  • Primary data

  • Secondary data

  • Quantitative data

  • Qualitative data

  • Accuracy

  • Reliability

  • Precision

  • Sampling

  • Anomalous data


How long will this topic take to study?


On average you’ll be looking at about one or two hours of study time.


What are the main activities on this topic?


Before you begin you’ll find this download helpful:



Hold-on to the heat! – Why do penguins and yaks huddle together when it’s really cold? How is it possible to store heat generated at night (when electricity is cheap), so that it can be released during the day? Can penguins and yaks teach us something? In this investigation you will find out how increasing the bulk of an object affects its ability to store heat, and then make recommendations to a local domestic heating company.




Is fresh best?


Does cooking really reduce the ‘goodness’ of food? Most fruits and vegetables contain vitamin C – an essential nutrient for general health. Our bodies need vitamin C as an antioxidant and as a cofactor (a kind of biochemical catalyst) in the operation of several major enzymes involved with life processes such as metabolism. We all know that eating fruit and vegetables is good for us, but does cooking reduce it’s effect? In this investigation you will measure the concentration of vitamin C in cabbage before and after cooking with a view to making recommendations to a local food production company.




That’s the spirit!


The brewing of beer in this country alone is estimated to be worth over £53 billion! The conversion of glucose to ethanol during the production of beer is carried out by the anaerobic respiration of yeast. How yeast works is extremely important to the economy of this country! In this investigation you will investigate one of the factors that affects the anaerobic respiration of yeast, and then make recommendations to a local brewer.




What will I be expected to do on my own time as homework?


You’ll be required to do one of the above investigations and write it up under controlled conditions. Independent learning time can be used for research purposes, but researched materials must be printed off and taken to lessons and kept under controlled conditions.



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