Physics is a practical subject. The development and acquisition of practical skills is fundamental. This course provides you with the opportunity to develop experimental methods and techniques for analysing empirical data. Skills in planning, implementing, analysing and evaluating will be assessed in the written papers.

OCR A requires that you demonstrate practical and research skills throughout the A level. There are 12 areas, each of which has a selection of practicals that you may cover. You may be examined on any one of these practicals. In class you will carry out one official practical and write-up, but be warned that you maybe be assessed on any of the alternative practicals, so it is worth you reading through them and considering how you may undergo such experiments (you may do the other experiments in class, but it is not definite).

Here is a completed practical on the resistance of a wire – Example

The 12 practicals are as follows:

  1. Motion:
    1. Acceleration of freefall
    2. Terminal velocity
    3. Stopping distances
  2. Elasticity
    1. Determining young modulus
    2. Springs in series and parallel
    3. Investigating properties of a plastic bag
  3. Electricity:
    1. Resistivity of a metal
    2. Investigating electrical characteristics
    3. Determining the maximum power from a cell
  4. Electrical Circuit/ Components:
    1. Investigating electrical circuits
    2. Electrical circuits with more than one source of e.m.f.
    3. Using non-ohmic devices as sensors
  5. Waves:
    1. Determining wavelength with diffraction gratings
    2. Speed of sound with a resonant tube
    3. Using an oscilloscope
    4. Using diffraction from a CD
  6. Quantum:
    1. Planck constant
    2. Experiments with light
    3. Experiments with polarisation
  7. Radioactivity:
    1. Investigating the random nature of radioactive decay
    2. Investigating the absorption of radioactive particles and rays
    3. Investigating the half-life of radioactive materials
      1. Read the following document:
        CLEAPSS: SSS011-Radioactive-materials.pdf
      2. Read Pages 21, 22, 23 & 39 of the following document:
        CLEAPSS: L093-Managing-Ionising-Radiations-and-Radioactive-Substances-in-Schools-and-Colleges.pdf
  8. Thermal Physics:
    1. Estimating absolute zero from gas pressure and volume measurements
    2. Investigating the relationship between pressure and volume in a gas
    3. Estimating the work done by a gas as its temperature increases
    4. Verifying PV=NkT
  9. Capacitors:
    1. Investigating charging and discharging capacitors
    2. Capacitors in series and parallel
    3. Investigating factors affecting the capacitance of a capacitor
  10. Oscillations:
    1. Investigating factors affecting simple harmonic motion
    2. Observing forced and damped oscillations
    3. Comparing static and dynamic methods of determining spring stiffness
  11. Mixture:
    1. Investigating transformers
    2. Determining the specific heat capacity of a material
    3. Determining the magnetic field strength of a magnet
  12. Researching and Referencing:
    1. Materials presentation
    2. Research report
    3. How science works