Friday, 22 May 2015

Time period of spring motion


2 x Clamp & stand
Datalogger & light gate
Sticky tape


Set up one clamp and stand to hold the spring with masses on.
Set up the second to hold the light gate of the datalogger.

Add a small (1cm width) paper flag to the masses using the tape to secure it, the flag should be positioned so it passes completely through the datalogger light gate.

Set the datalogger recording and pull the masses down and release. Use the datalogger output to find the time for 10 oscillations.

Add another mass onto the hanger and repeat - you will need to adjust the position of the light gate so it is in line with the rest position of the flag.


The spring and masses may become unstable, ensure the equipment is kept central on the bench and that the spring is firmly attached to the clamp. The masses should only be pulled down a couple centimetres to avoid the system becoming unstable as the masses will start to swing as well as bob.

Physical factors affecting lung volume

Olympic cyclists tend to have larger than average lungs for their size. This experiment looks for links between physical attributes and lung volume which would enable people to predict their likelihood of success should they take up the sport.


Spirometer or other breathing volume measuring equipment (e.g. lung volume bag)
Tape measure
Range of subjects


Measure a range of physical features for each subject such as height, chest circumference, length from between collar bone to sternum, length of forearm etc.

Use the spirometer to record the maximum breath volume of each subject and also their peak flow rate if your device will allow that.

Plot a scatter graph of the lung volume against each physical measurement to determine if there is a correlation between any of the data collected.


Asthmatics may cough when performing these tests so should either be removed from the sample or ensure they have their inhaler with them. The mouthpiece of the spirometer should be changed or sterilised between subjects.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Breath volume before and after exercise


Breathing bag (long plastic bag with markings to show litres)
Two way mouthpiece
Nose clip
Treadmill (optional)


Place nose clip on the subject and get them to make 5 normal breaths through the mouthpiece and into the bag. The mouthpiece should be of a design with a valve which allows air to enter the mouth on inhalation, with exhaled air being passed into the bag.

Roll the bag down from the mouthpiece end and read off the volume of gas contained within.

Get your subject to perform a light exercise, such as jogging on a treadmill or performing star jumps, for two minutes, with the noseclip removed so that they can breath normally.

Repeat the measurement of air volume produced from 5 breaths.

Another set of exercise should be performed for for minutes and measurements made. This should be repeated with exercise intervals increasing by two minutes each time up to a maximum of ten minutes.

The subject should be encouraged to breath as normally as possible in all cases.


Should your subject become light headed stop the experiment, remove the mouthpiece and nose clip and allow them to breath deeply for a few minutes. Ensure that the area where the exercise is taking place is free from obstruction. Ensure that your subject is in general good health before taking part. Ensure that the mouthpiece is sterilised prior to use, or has a disposable extension which is used.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Fatigue and exercise intensity using hand clenching

Does the intensity of muscle contractions affect the length of time it takes to become fatigued?




1. Sit with your stronger arm resting on the table, palm uppermost.
2. Clench and unclench your fist, at a rate of once every 3 seconds in time with the metronome. Record how long it takes to feel so fatigued that it becomes too painful to continue.
3. Rest for 2 minutes, then repeat twice more at the same intensity.
4. Repeat the clenching and unclenching at a rate of once every 2 seconds, then every 1 second, then 2 per second, then 3 per second.
5. You should have 3 repeats at each of 5 different intensities.

Risks assessment

1. Ensure that the proper rest time between repeats is observed, to prevent strain on the arm muscles and tendons.
2. If the rest time is insufficient to fully recover, then extend it to 3 minutes.

Titration to determine volume of acid needed to neutralise an alkali


Burette with clamp and stand
Pipette (10ml) with filler bulb
Conical Flask
Known concentration (1 molar) Hydrochloric Acid
Unknown concentration alkali solution
Phenolphthalein Indicator
Deionised water


Use the pipette to measure 10ml of alkali solution into the conical flask. Add 5 drops of the indicator to turn the solution pink.

Fill the burette with acid using the funnel, ensuring the tap is closed before starting to fill. Allow some acid to run through to ensure there are no air bubbles in the nozzle. Ensure the the burette is starting at the 0ml mark.

Add the acid to the conical flask 5ml at a time, swirling between each addition to find the rough end point of the reaction (when the solution in the flask goes clear).

Refill the burette, rinse out the conical flask with deionised water and put another 10ml of alkali in there.

Add acid from the burette until you are approximately 5ml from the endpoint, then continue to add acid, but at a much slower rate. Ideally you will add one final drop which will neutralise the solution.

Once you have recorded the volume of acid required repeat twice more.


Glassware can break if not handled correctly so care should be taken and if anything does break a dustpan and brush should be used to sweep up all the pieces. Acid and alkali can be irritant or worse so goggles should always be worn, care should especially be taken when filling the burette.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Effect of acid type on seed germination


4 x petri dishes
cress seeds
absorbent paper such as kitchen towel or blotting paper
1 molar Hydrochloric, Sulphuric and Nitric acids


Place a few layers of the absorbent paper into the petri dishes and soak each one in a different acid, with the final one containing just water.

Sprinkle 25 cress seeds onto the paper and leave for a week in a sunny location. Check the paper each day to ensure it does not dry out.

After one week count the number of seeds that have germinated in each dish and measure the height of the 10 tallest seedlings.


Goggles should always be worn when working with acids. Any spills should be cleared up straight away.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Effect of acid rain on plant growth


Cress seeds
Absorbent paper
4 Saucers
1M hydrochloric acid


Place some of the absorbent paper on each of the saucers.
One should be soaked in the acid, one from a 50/50 solution of acid and water, one from a 10% solution of acid and water and one with just water.
Place 20 cress seeds on each saucer.
Leave for one week for the seeds to grow ensuring that the paper does not dry out.
Ensure the saucers are as close together as possible to avoid variance in temperature and light received.

Measure the height of each of the plants that has germinated, and also record how many of the plants germinated.

You may also record any other pertinent information about the plants such as leaf colour or shape.


Ensure goggles are used when working with acidic solutions, also ensure that the saucers are left to germinate in an area where they will not be knocked onto the floor and break.

Friday, 8 May 2015

Refraction angle vs incident angle


Rectangular glass block
Raybox with single slit
Power supply


Draw round the glass lock and shine the ray from the raybox so that it enters one long side of the block and exits the other.
Mark the centre line of the two rays using the pencil.
Remove the block and join the dots to the outline of the block. Connect up the entry and exit points within the block outline.
Mark on a normal where the ray enters the block outline.
Measure the angles of incidence (outside block) and the refracted angle (inside block)
Record the pair of angles.
Repeat for a number of different angles of incidence.


Rayboxes can get hot whilst in use, leave to cool down before putting away, take care when moving the box between tests, switch off between measurements.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Measuring the refractive index of a rectangular prism


Rectangular prism (glass or perspex)
Raybox with single slit fitted and power supply
Plain paper
Sharp pencil


Place the block on the paper and draw around it.
Mark on a normal line perpendicular to the block outline midway along the long side of the block so that it extends to within the block outline drawn.
Use the protractor to measure and mark out lines every 10 degrees from the normal, up to 60 degrees.

Shine the ray from the raybox so that it enters the block at an angle of 10 degrees from the normal.
Carefully mark 2 or three dots in the centre of the ray leaving the block on the opposite side.
Remove the block and use a ruler to join these dots to show the path of the exiting ray up to the block outline.
Use the ruler join up this point with where the normal intersects the other side.

Measure the angle between the refracted ray drawn inside the block and the normal and record this.
Repeat this drawing on of dots and measuring the angle of refraction for each angle of incidence.

Calculate the refractive index for each pair of readings by finding sin i / sin r - then calculate a mean value from the five values of refractive index calculated.


Rayboxes can and do get hot whilst in use so care should be taken to allow it to cool before packing away. Glass or perspex prisms could shatter if dropped onto a hard surface - if so any broken material should be cleaned away using a dustpan and brush, not fingers.

LDR response to variations in light intensity


6V power supply
Connecting leads
Desk lamp


Connect the LDR and ammeter in series with the power supply. Connect the voltmeter in parallel to the LDR.
Set the LDR up so it is 10cm from the bulb.
Switch on the lamp and record the ammeter and voltmeter readings. Switch off the lamp, then back on and repeat the readings. Repeat once more.
Move the LDR 5cm further from the bulb and take another 3 sets of readings.
Continue until you reach 40cm from the bulb.

Take the voltage reading and divide by the current to find the resistance of the LDR in each case.


The bulb being used may get hot. Care should be taken to let it cool before packing away.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

LDR vs light colour


Red, green, blue, IR and UV LEDs
4.5V power supply
Crocodile clip leads
Digital multimeter
Black cardboard tube


Connect an LED to the power supply and insert into one end of the tube so that it is the only light source.
Attach the LDR to the multimeter set to read Ohms and place in the other end of the tube.
Switch on the power supply and record the reading shown on the multimeter.
Repeat for each of the LED colours.

Ensure that the distance between the LED and LDR does not change and that the LED is the only light source able to affect the reading on the LDR.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Catalyst mass and volume of gas produced in decomposition of Hydrogen Peroxide


Powdered catalyst
Hydrogen peroxide
250ml measuring cylinder
Washing up liquid
Top pan balance


Add 50ml of Hydrogen Peroxide to the measuring cylinder and 5ml of washing up liquid.
Drop in 0.1g of the catalyst and measure the maximum height of the bubbles produced.
Repeat for different masses of catalyst.


Goggles should be worn at all times. Using too much catalyst may result in the foam overflowing the measuring cylinder so a supply of paper towels should be kept ready to clear up any spills.

Catalyst effect on Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide naturally decomposes to release oxygen. The presence of a catalyst will increase the rate of decomposition. This experiment looks at how different catalysts affect the decomposition rate.


Conical Flask
Bung & delivery tube
Gas syringe
Measuring cylinder
Top pan balance
Hydrogen peroxide
A selection of catalysts e.g manganese oxide, lead oxide, liver


Measure out 100ml of hydrogen peroxide into the measuring cylinder  and pour into the conical flask.
The bung and delivery tube should be connected to the gas syringe.
Add 0.5g of the chosen catalyst to the conical flask, insert the bung and start the stopcock.
Time how long it takes for 20ml of gas to be produced.
Repeat three times for each catalyst.


Wear goggles when measuring out liquids. Wipe up any spills straight away. Ensure you work in the centre of the bench and that all glass ware is kept away from the edge. Use a dustpan and brush to clean up any breakages if they occur.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Fatigue, lactic acid build up and recovery time




Start the stopcock and clench and unclench hand fully as rapidly as possible until the burning sensation becomes too great. Stop the stopcock.
Wait for 1 minute then repeat the test.
Increase the wait time by 1 minute and repeat again, and continue up until a 10 minute interval between exercises.

Produce a plot of interval between exercise vs time to onset of fatigue.

Exercise rate, breathing rate and fatigue




Place the spirometer mouthpiece in the test subjects mouth and clip their nose so all air goes through the mouth.
Get the person on the treadmill and slowly increase speed until it reaches 4m/s. Time how long it takes for the person running to feel fatigued and unable to carry on. They should then lift off the treadmill by pushing up on the sides and the treadmill should be slowed.
Repeat at intervals of 0.5m/s up to 8m/s.
The spirometer reading can give an indication of the breathing rate and volume during the test.

The runner will need adequate time for recovery between tests.
The runner will also need to be provided with an glucose drink prior to the experiment to ensure that  blood sugar levels do not affect the onset of fatigue.

Wind turbine blades numbers vs output voltage


Clamp & stand x 2
Connecting leads
Stiff card


Using the compass mark a circle of 12cm diameter on the card and another of 3cm diameter in the middle, then cut out the large circle.
Mark points around the edge of the circle at the 12, 3, 6 and 9 o'clock positions, mark again at the midpoint between these, and again at the midpoint between the last set of points. You will have 16 points marked around the edge. Use a ruler to mark a line joining opposite points.
Attach the centre of the circle to the motor/generator spindle firmly using glue.
Cut from the edge to the inner circle at the 12 and 6 o'clock positions to make a turbine with 2 blades - you may need to gently curve the card.
Attach the wind turbine to the clamp stand, with the hairdryer in the other so that there is 10cm between the hairdryer nozzle and the turbine blades.
Connect the turbine to the voltmeter.
Turn on the hairdryer and record the reading shown on the voltmeter.

Adjust the turbine blades, cutting it so that it now has 4 evenly spaced elements. Repeat the measurement of the output, ensuring that the distance o the hairdryer remains at 10cm.

Repeat twice more, with 8 blades and 16 blades on the turbine.


The hairdryer may get hot after prolonged use. The turbine blades could get caught up in long hair, so it should be tied back.

Wind speed & electricity generation

This experiment will let you investigate how wind speed affects the amount of electricity produced by a wind turbine.


Fan attached to variable power supply (0-12V)
Motor/generator with fan blades attached
Voltmeter (0-5V analogue)
Connecting leads
Clamp & stand
Metre stick.


Place the fan on the desktop.
Mount the turbine using the clamp and stand so that the centre of it is in line with the centre of the fan ensuring that the blades can rotate freely.
Make sure that the fan blades and the turbine blades are 10cm apart.
Connect the turbine to the voltmeter.

Adjust the setting on the power supply up by 1V at a time until the turbine blades start to spin.
Record the reading on the voltmeter.
Continue to increase the setting on the power supply by 1V at a time and record the reading on the voltmeter.


Spinning fan blades can cause damage. Fingers should be kept clear as should long hair or any loose clothing. Ensure the clamp and stand is stable, if you need to mount the generator high on the stand then you may need a g clamp to secure it to the bench.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Comparing antibiotic effectiveness

Different antibiotics work in many different ways to kill bacteria, but not all antibiotics work on all bacteria.


Poured plates containing different bacteria types (1 type per plate)
Solutions of different antibiotics
Filter paper discs


Number the disks with a pencil.
Soak discs numbered 1 in the first solution, 2 in the next etc.
Place a disc numbered 1 on the agar in each plate.
Repeat with the other discs.
Place the lids on the dishes, tape down in 4 places. Do not open the plates again.

Incubate for up to a week to allow the bacteria colonies to reproduce and become visible.

Measure the distance from the edge of each disc to the nearest bacteria colony.

Compare the data to see which antibiotic affects which bacteria type the most.


All equipment should be kept sterile. Wash your hands before and after using an antibacterial hand wash - gloves may also be worn. Plates will need to be autoclaved once they have been examined.

Investigating antibiotic properties

This experiment investigates how some common household items can work as antibacterial agents.


Any experimentation with living bacteria requires strict aseptic technique. It is assumed you will be familiar with these techniques prior to completing this experiment - if not advice can be found at

In general ensure that hands are washed before and after completing any work with bacteria and that all implements used are sterile. Additionally plates should not be opened once incubated and should be disposed of in an autoclave.


Use a poured plate with the bacterial strain being used already present in the agar.

Select a number of household items, such as hand soap, dish soap, bleach, mouthwash and use forceps to dip a small disk (up to 1cm diameter maximum) into the liquid and place on the surface of the agar. A disk dipped in boiled water should also be used as a control. To allow easy identification use a pencil to number the disks prior to dipping.

Set up three plates in exactly the same way, then leave to incubate for up to a week.

Measure the furthest distance from the edge of each disk to the bacteria now visible to determine the most effective antibacterial substance.

Metals, acids, reactivity and energy

Reacting metals with an acid produces Hydrogen gas. These reactions are also exothermic, the energy released in the reaction is related to the relative reactivity of the chemicals used.


Samples of powdered metal.
Hydrochloric, Sulphuric and Nitric acids - 1 molar
Boiling tubes
Top pan balance - 0.01g resolution
Digital thermometer - 0.1 degree C resolution
Measuring cylinder - 10 ml


Measure 10ml of acid into the boiling tube.
Measure 0.5g of the metal powder.
Record the temperature of the acid using the digital thermometer, then add the metal powder to the acid.
Record the highest temperature reached.
Repeat for each metal, with each acid.


Some reactions will produce a lot of energy and get very hot so care should be taken when touching the bottom of the boiling tube. The reaction evolves Hydrogen gas which can cause the liquid to bubble up the boiling tube and spill over. care should be taken when clearing up spills. Goggles should be worn at all times during the experiment.

Metal Reactivity with Acid

The purpose of this experiment is to investigate the relative reactivity of a variety of metals. Extension ideas are provided to allow generalisation across acids and to also investigate the effect of acid concentration.

The more reactive a metal is, the faster it should react and thus the quicker it should evolve a set volume of Hydrogen.


50ml measuring cylinders
Top pan balance with 0.01g resolution
Stop clock
Powdered samples of 4 different metals (e.g. Magnesium, Zinc, Copper, Iron)
Hydrochloric Acid
Conical flask
Bung with delivery tube
Water trough


Note - you will need to perform a preliminary test to find a suitable volume and concentration of acid and mass of metal to use to ensure a sufficient volume of gas is produced.

Set up the water trough with the 50ml measuring cylinder upturned to collect the gas produced over water.
Measure out your acid and place in the conical flask. Weigh out your metal powder and set to one side.
When you are ready tip the metal powder into the acid and place the bung with delivery tube into the conical flask, then start the stopclock.
Time how long it takes the metal to produce 25ml gas.
Repeat the test twice more, then repeat using a different metal.

To ensure that the effect you are seeing is just down to the metal you will need to ensure that some control variables are maintained. The mass of metal used, volume of acid used and concentration of acid used should all be the same. Additionally the metal powders should ideally have the same size of grain. Finally you should also try to control the temperature. There will be a heating effect due to the reaction and this in turn affects the rate at which the reaction occurs.


Do not use highly concentrated acid for this experiment as spills may cause damage to surfaces or burns to skin. Goggles should be worn at all times when working with liquid chemicals. The reaction produces Hydrogen gas which is explosive, so care should be taken that no naked flames are present during this experiment.