GCSE Physics Specification Specification for first teaching in 2016

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Practical work is at the heart of physics, so we have placed it at the heart of this specification.

There are three interconnected, but separate reasons for doing practical work in schools. They are:

- To support and consolidate scientific concepts (knowledge and understanding).
This is done by applying and developing what is known and understood of abstract ideas and models. Through practical work we are able to make sense of new information and observations, and provide insights into the development of scientific thinking.

- To develop investigative skills. These transferable skills include:
- devising and investigating testable questions
- identifying and controlling variables
- analysing, interpreting and evaluating data.

- To build and master practical skills such as:
- using specialist equipment to take measurements
- handling and manipulating equipment with confidence and fluency
- recognising hazards and planning how to minimise risk.

By focusing on the reasons for carrying out a particular practical, teachers will help their students understand the subject better, to develop the skills of a scientist and to master the manipulative skills required for further study or jobs in STEM subjects.

Questions in the written exams will draw on the knowledge and understanding students have gained by carrying out the practical activities listed below. These questions will count for at least 15% of the overall marks for the qualification. Many of our questions will also focus on investigative skills and how well students can apply what they know to practical situations often in novel contexts.

The practical handbook will help teachers plan purposeful practical work that develops both practical and investigative skills and encourages the thinking behind the doing so that they can reach their potential.

Teachers are encouraged to further develop students’ abilities by providing other opportunities for practical work throughout the course. Opportunities are signposted in the right hand column of the content section of this specification for further skills development.

Our physics scheme of work will provide ideas and suggestions for good practical activities that are manageable with large classes.

All students are expected to have carried out the required practical activities in Required practical activities . These develop skills in the use of the following apparatus and techniques.

The following list includes opportunities for choice and use of appropriate laboratory apparatus for a variety of experimental problem-solving and/or enquiry-based activities.

Safety is an overriding requirement for all practical work. Schools and colleges are responsible for ensuring that appropriate safety procedures are followed whenever their students undertake practical work, and should undertake full risk assessments.

Use and production of appropriate scientific diagrams to set up and record apparatus and procedures used in practical work is common to all science subjects and should be included wherever appropriate.

AT 1‒7 are common with combined science. AT 8 is physics only.

The following practical activities must be carried out by all students taking GCSE Physics.

Following any revision by the Secretary of State of the apparatus or techniques specified, we will review and revise the required practical activities as appropriate.

Schools and colleges will be informed of any changes in a timely manner and the amended specification will be published, highlighting the changes accordingly.

Teachers are encouraged to vary their approach to these practical activities. Some are more suitable for highly structured approaches that develop key techniques while others allow opportunities for students to develop investigative approaches.

This list is not designed to limit the practical activities carried out by students. A rich practical experience will include more than the ten required practical activities. The explicit teaching of practical skills will build students’ competence. Many teachers will also use practical approaches to introduce content knowledge in the course of their normal teaching.

Schools and colleges are required to provide a practical science statement to AQA, that is a true and accurate written statement , which confirms that it has taken reasonable steps to secure that each student has:- completed the required practical activities detailed in this specification
- made a contemporaneous record of such work undertaken during the activities and the knowledge, skills and understanding derived from those activities.

We will provide a form for the head of centre to sign. You must submit the form to us by the date published at aqa.org.uk/science . We will contact schools and colleges directly with the deadline date and timely reminders if the form is not received. Failure to send this form counts as malpractice/maladministration, and may result in formal action or warning for the school or college.

Practicals 1, 3‒8 and 10 are common with GCSE Combined Science: Trilogy and GCSE Combined Science: Synergy. Practicals 2 and 9 are GCSE Physics only.

An investigation to determine the specific heat capacity of one or more materials. The investigation will involve linking the decrease of one energy store (or work done) to the increase in temperature and subsequent increase in thermal energy stored.

In doing this practical students should cover these parts of the apparatus and techniques requirements.

AT 1 – use appropriate apparatus to make and record measurements of mass, time and temperature accurately.

AT 5 – use, in a safe manner, appropriate apparatus to measure energy changes/transfers and associated values such as work done.

In doing this practical there are key opportunities for students to develop the following skills.

WS 2.1 – use scientific theories and explanations to develop hypotheses.

WS 2.2 – plan experiments or devise procedures to make observations, produce or characterise a substance, test hypotheses, check data or explore phenomena.

WS 2.3 – apply a knowledge of a range of techniques, instruments, apparatus, and materials to select those appropriate to the experiment.

WS 2.4 – carry out experiments appropriately having due regard for the correct manipulation of apparatus, the accuracy of measurements and health and safety considerations.

WS 2.6 – make and record observations and measurements using a range of apparatus and methods.

WS 2.7 – evaluate methods and suggest possible improvements and further investigations.

WS 3.1 – present observations and other data using appropriate methods.

WS 3.2 – translate data from one form to another.

WS 3.3 – carry out and represent mathematical and statistical analysis.

WS 3.4 – represent the distribution of results and make estimations of uncertainty.

WS 3.5 – interpret observations and other data (presented in verbal, diagrammatic, graphical, symbolic or numerical form), including identifying patterns and trends, making inferences and drawing conclusions.

WS 3.6 – present reasoned explanations including relating data to hypotheses.

WS 3.7 – be objective, evaluate data in terms of accuracy, precision, repeatability and reproducibility and identify potential sources of random and systematic error.

WS 3.8 – communicate the scientific rationale for investigations, methods used, findings and reasoned conclusions through written and electronic reports and presentations using verbal, diagrammatic, graphical, numerical and symbolic forms.

WS 4.2 – recognise the importance of scientific quantities and understand how they are determined.

WS 4.3 – use SI units (eg kg, g, mg; km, m, mm; kJ, J) and IUPAC chemical nomenclature unless inappropriate.

WS 4.6 – use an appropriate number of significant figures in calculation.

MS 2a – use an appropriate number of significant figures.

MS 2b – find arithmetic means.

MS 3b – change the subject of an equation.

MS 3c – substitute numerical values into algebraic equations using appropriate units for physical quantities.

Investigate the effectiveness of different materials as thermal insulators and the factors that may affect the thermal insulation properties of a material.

In doing this practical students should cover these parts of the apparatus and techniques requirements.

AT 1 – use appropriate apparatus to make and record a range of measurements accurately, including length, area, mass, time, volume and temperature.

AT 5 – use, in a safe manner, appropriate apparatus to measure energy changes/transfers.

In doing this practical there are key opportunities for students to develop the following skills.

WS 1.2 – use a variety of models such as representational, spatial, descriptive, computational and mathematical to solve problems, make predictions and to develop scientific explanations and understanding of familiar and unfamiliar facts.

WS 2.1 – use scientific theories and explanations to develop hypotheses.

WS 2.2 – plan experiments or devise procedures to make observations, produce or characterise a substance, test hypotheses, check data or explore phenomena.

WS 2.3 – apply a knowledge of a range of techniques, instruments, apparatus, and materials to select those appropriate to the experiment.

WS 2.4 – carry out experiments appropriately having due regard for the correct manipulation of apparatus, the accuracy of measurements and health and safety considerations.

WS 2.6 – make and record observations and measurements using a range of apparatus and methods.

WS 2.7 – evaluate methods and suggest possible improvements and further investigations.

WS 3.1 – present observations and other data using appropriate methods.

WS 3.3 – carry out and represent mathematical and statistical analysis.

WS 3.4 – represent the distribution of results and make estimations of uncertainty.

WS 3.5 – interpret observations and other data (presented in verbal, diagrammatic, graphical, symbolic or numerical form), including identifying patterns and trends, making inferences and drawing conclusions.

WS 3.6 – present reasoned explanations including relating data to hypotheses.

WS 3.8 – communicate the scientific rationale for investigations, methods used, findings and reasoned conclusions through written and electronic reports and presentations using verbal, diagrammatic, graphical, numerical and symbolic forms.

WS 4.2 – recognise the importance of scientific quantities and understand how they are determined.

WS 4.3 – use SI units (eg kg, g, mg; km, m, mm; kJ, J) and IUPAC chemical nomenclature unless inappropriate.

WS 4.6 – use an appropriate number of significant figures in calculation.

MS 2a – use an appropriate number of significant figures.

MS 2c – construct and interpret frequency tables and diagrams, bar charts and histograms.

MS 4c – plot two variables from experimental or other data.

MS 5c – calculate areas of triangles and rectangles, surface areas and volumes of cubes.

- the length of a wire at constant temperature
- combinations of resistors in series and parallel.

In doing this practical students should cover these parts of the apparatus and techniques requirements.

AT 1 – use appropriate apparatus to measure and record length accurately.

AT 6 – use appropriate apparatus to measure current, potential difference and resistance.

AT 7 – use circuit diagrams to construct and check series and parallel circuits.

In doing this practical there are key opportunities for students to develop the following skills.

WS 2.1 – use scientific theories and explanations to develop hypotheses.

WS 2.2 – plan experiments or devise procedures to make observations, produce or characterise a substance, test hypotheses, check data or explore phenomena.

WS 2.3 – apply a knowledge of a range of techniques, instruments, apparatus, and materials to select those appropriate to the experiment.

WS 2.4 – carry out experiments appropriately having due regard for the correct manipulation of apparatus, the accuracy of measurements and health and safety considerations.

WS 2.5 – recognise when to apply a knowledge of sampling techniques to ensure any samples collected are representative.

WS 2.6 – make and record observations and measurements using a range of apparatus and methods.

WS 2.7 – evaluate methods and suggest possible improvements and further investigations.

WS 3.1 – present observations and other data using appropriate methods.

WS 3.2 – translate data from one form to another.

WS 3.3 – carry out and represent mathematical and statistical analysis.

WS 3.4 – represent the distribution of results and make estimations of uncertainty.

WS 3.5 – interpret observations and other data (presented in verbal, diagrammatic, graphical, symbolic or numerical form), including identifying patterns and trends, making inferences and drawing conclusions.

WS 3.6 – present reasoned explanations including relating data to hypotheses.

WS 3.7 – be objective, evaluate data in terms of accuracy, precision, repeatability and reproducibility and identify potential sources of random and systematic error.

WS 3.8 – communicate the scientific rationale for investigations, methods used, findings and reasoned conclusions through written and electronic reports and presentations using verbal, diagrammatic, graphical, numerical and symbolic forms.

WS 4.2 – recognise the importance of scientific quantities and understand how they are determined.

WS 4.3 – use SI units (eg kg, g, mg; km, m, mm; kJ, J) and IUPAC chemical nomenclature unless inappropriate.

WS 4.6 – use an appropriate number of significant figures in calculation.

MS 2a – use an appropriate number of significant figures.

MS 2b – find arithmetic means.

MS 4b – understand that *y* = *mx* + *c* represents a linear relationship.

MS 4c – plot two variables from experimental or other data.

MS 4d – determine the slope and intercept of a linear graph.

Use circuit diagrams to construct appropriate circuits to investigate the I–V characteristics of a variety of circuit elements including a filament lamp, a diode and a resistor at constant temperature.

AT 6 – use appropriate apparatus to measure current and potential difference and to explore the characteristics of a variety of circuit elements.

AT 7 – use circuit diagrams to construct and check series and parallel circuits including a variety of common circuit elements.

In doing this practical there are key opportunities for students to develop the following skills.

WS 2.1 – use scientific theories and explanations to develop hypotheses.

WS 2.5 – recognise when to apply a knowledge of sampling techniques to ensure any samples collected are representative.

WS 2.6 – make and record observations and measurements using a range of apparatus and methods.

WS 2.7 – evaluate methods and suggest possible improvements and further investigations.

WS 3.1 – present observations and other data using appropriate methods.

WS 3.2 – translate data from one form to another.

WS 3.3 – carry out and represent mathematical and statistical analysis.

WS 3.4 – represent the distribution of results and make estimations of uncertainty.

WS 3.6 – present reasoned explanations including relating data to hypotheses.

WS 3.7 – be objective, evaluate data in terms of accuracy, precision, repeatability and reproducibility and identify potential sources of random and systematic error.

WS 4.2 – recognise the importance of scientific quantities and understand how they are determined.

WS 4.6 – use an appropriate number of significant figures in calculation.

MS 2a – use an appropriate number of significant figures.

MS 2g – use a scatter diagram to identify a correlation between two variables.

MS 4b – understand that *y* = *mx* + *c* represents a linear relationship.

MS 4c – plot two variables from experimental or other data.

Use appropriate apparatus to make and record the measurements needed to determine the densities of regular and irregular solid objects and liquids. Volume should be determined from the dimensions of a regularly shaped object and by a displacement technique for irregularly shaped objects. Dimensions to be measured using appropriate apparatus such as a ruler, micrometer or Vernier callipers.

AT 1 – use appropriate apparatus to make and record measurements of length, area, mass and volume accurately. Use such measurements to determine the density of solid objects and liquids.

In doing this practical there are key opportunities for students to develop the following skills.

WS 1.2 – use a variety of models such as representational, spatial, descriptive, computational and mathematical to solve problems, make predictions and to develop scientific explanations and understanding of familiar and unfamiliar facts.

WS 2.1 – use scientific theories and explanations to develop hypotheses.

WS 2.6 – make and record observations and measurements using a range of apparatus and methods.

WS 2.7 – evaluate methods and suggest possible improvements and further investigations.

WS 3.1 – present observations and other data using appropriate methods.

WS 4.2 – recognise the importance of scientific quantities and understand how they are determined.

WS 4.6 – use an appropriate number of significant figures in calculation.

MS 2a – use an appropriate number of significant figures.

MS 2b – find arithmetic means.

MS 5c – calculate areas of triangles and rectangles, surface areas and volumes of cubes.

Investigate the relationship between force and extension for a spring.

AT 1 – use appropriate apparatus to make and record length accurately.

AT 2 – use appropriate apparatus to measure and observe the effect of force on the extension of springs and collect the data required to plot a force-extension graph.

In doing this practical there are key opportunities for students to develop the following skills.

WS 2.1 – use scientific theories and explanations to develop hypotheses.

WS 2.6 – make and record observations and measurements using a range of apparatus and methods.

WS 3.1 – present observations and other data using appropriate methods.

WS 3.2 – translate data from one form to another.

WS 3.3 – carry out and represent mathematical and statistical analysis.

WS 4.6 – use an appropriate number of significant figures in calculation.

MS 2a – use an appropriate number of significant figures.

MS 2b – find arithmetic means.

MS 4a – translate information between graphical and numeric form.

MS 4b – understand that *y* = *mx* + *c* represents a linear relationship.

MS 4c – plot two variables from experimental or other data.

Investigate the effect of varying the force on the acceleration of an object of constant mass and the effect of varying the mass of an object on the acceleration produced by a constant force.

AT 1 – use appropriate apparatus to make and record measurements of length, mass and time accurately.

AT 2 – use appropriate apparatus to measure and observe the effect of force.

AT 3 – use appropriate apparatus and techniques for measuring motion, including determination of speed and rate of change of speed (acceleration/deceleration).

In doing this practical there are key opportunities for students to develop the following skills.

WS 2.1 – use scientific theories and explanations to develop hypotheses.

WS 2.6 – make and record observations and measurements using a range of apparatus and methods.

WS 2.7 – evaluate methods and suggest possible improvements and further investigations.

WS 3.1 – present observations and other data using appropriate methods.

WS 3.2 – translate data from one form to another.

WS 3.3 – carry out and represent mathematical and statistical analysis.

WS 3.4 – represent the distribution of results and make estimations of uncertainty.

WS 3.6 – present reasoned explanations including relating data to hypotheses.

WS 4.2 – recognise the importance of scientific quantities and understand how they are determined.

WS 4.6 – use an appropriate number of significant figures in calculation.

MS 2a – use an appropriate number of significant figures.

MS 2b – find arithmetic means.

MS 2g – use a scatter diagram to identify a correlation between two variables.

MS 4a – translate information between graphical and numeric form.

MS 4b – understand that *y* = *mx* + *c* represents a linear relationship.

MS 4c – plot two variables from experimental or other data.

Make observations to identify the suitability of apparatus to measure the frequency, wavelength and speed of waves in a ripple tank and waves in a solid and take appropriate measurements.

AT 4 – make observations of waves in fluids and solids to identify the suitability of apparatus to measure speed, frequency and wavelength.

In doing this practical there are key opportunities for students to develop the following skills.

WS 2.6 – make and record observations and measurements using a range of apparatus and methods.

WS 4.2 – recognise the importance of scientific quantities and understand how they are determined.

Investigate the reflection of light by different types of surface and the refraction of light by different substances.

AT 4 – make observations of the effects of the interaction of electromagnetic waves (light) with matter.

AT 8 – make observations of waves in fluids and solids to identify the suitability of apparatus to measure the effects of the interaction of waves with matter.

In doing this practical there are key opportunities for students to develop the following skills.

WS 2.1 – use scientific theories and explanations to develop hypotheses.

WS 2.7 – evaluate methods and suggest possible improvements and further investigations.

WS 3.1 – present observations and other data using appropriate methods.

WS 3.4 – represent the distribution of results and make estimations of uncertainty.

WS 3.6 – present reasoned explanations including relating data to hypotheses.

WS 4.2 – recognise the importance of scientific quantities and understand how they are determined.

MS 2g – use a scatter diagram to identify a correlation between two variables.

MS 4c – plot two variables from experimental or other data.

MS 5a – use angular measures in degrees.

MS 5b – visualise and represent 2D and 3D forms including two dimensional representations of 3D objects.

Investigate how the amount of infrared radiation absorbed or radiated by a surface depends on the nature of that surface.

AT 1 – use appropriate apparatus to make and record temperature accurately.

AT 4 – make observations of the effects of the interaction of electromagnetic waves with matter.

In doing this practical there are key opportunities for students to develop the following skills.

WS 4.2 – recognise the importance of scientific quantities and understand how they are determined.

WS 4.6 – use an appropriate number of significant figures in calculation.

MS 2c – construct and interpret frequency tables and diagrams, bar charts and histograms.