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What have I improved/
learnt since the beginning of Btec science


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During unit 2 of Btec applied
science I have done practical’s that involve titration, using PH meters,
measuring the rate of cooling using a thermometer and the calibration of equipment.
The practical’s that I have done are Titrations, Chromatography, Scientific Procedures and Techniques (Calculating the
cooling curve of stearic acid), calculating the resistance of an unknown
material and testing for Vitamin C. I have also started unit 8, which requires
the ability to write up scientific knowledge, which is also necessary for unit 2,
as we have to write it in our own words. I have used references accurately
throughout unit 2 and 8. When doing the stearic acid practical we had to use
the Bunsen burner to melt the stearic acid this was so that we would be able to
know the melting and boiling point of the stearic acid. We did the calibration
practical, this practical had to crush ice and use a thermometer to get 0
degrees, and then we had to boil water and use the thermometer to record the
temperature to 100 degrees, which is the boiling point. In my chromatography practicals,
I have learnt how to carefully place the chemical spots on the line so that it does
not affect my results. I can now tell the difference between the stationary
phase, mobile phase and solute particle.


Knowing how to do titration,
calibration and recording references can be very useful when working in the
scientific industry. An example of titration being used in the science industry
is if a concentration of a substance needs to be determined. Calibration can be
used to calibrate the equipment used for the titration e.g. calibration of the
pipette, other equipment and any machinery that may be used. Recording references
is necessary during research in the scientific industry to avoid plagiarism and
to avoid copyright claims in scientific investigations.


Before Btec applied science,
I had already obtained skills such as how to use a Bunsen burner safely and
accurately and how to measure rate of cooling using a thermometer avoiding
parallax error. Since GCSE and KS3, I have improved these skills greatly as I
have continued to using these skills in Btec applied science. For example, I
used a Bunsen burner to boil water when calibrating a thermometer to reach
100°C. I read the measurements of the thermometer by holding it at eye level
therefore avoiding parallax error.


Skill developed

Personal qualities/ skills

 I have learnt to do
titrations in Chemistry, which is something I did not know how to do before. I
have done the titration to find out the concentration of sodium hydroxide I did
this by standardising hydrochloric acid using sodium carbonate in the
titration. In my Physics practical, I learnt how to calculate the
melting/cooling curve of stearic acid and during the beginning of the
practical; we calibrated the thermometer. This helped me develop my calibration
skills as I used crushed ice to get the thermometer to 0oC as this is the
freezing point and then I boiled water and put the thermometer into the beaker
as it was boiling so that the thermometer could reach 100oC because this is the
boiling point.


I have developed my skills to write up the scientific report
this is through the write up I have done after every practical during Physics
and Chemistry lessons and while doing research and writing information on the
musculoskeletal system and putting it in my own words during biology lessons.


I have learnt to work cooperatively in a group and I am now
able to understand my strengths and weaknesses when being in a group e.g. I can
understand and transfer instructions from and to my fellow colleagues which is
very important when working in a group to coherently understand the experiment.
I have improved since GCSE and KS3, as I am more confident now than when I was
before during group work. I have learnt how to follow strict safety procedures
and safety checks. I have learnt to keep up to date with scientific development
as this keeps me informed about the work that I am doing and how it has
improved and developed. This means that I will know accurate scientific
knowledge that is necessary when doing assignments and investigations.

The teacher explains the steps that need to be taken to
control risks before every practical. It is my job as the pupil to manage the
environment around me to ensure the health and safety of my colleagues and me
is at a high standard.


I have learnt how to use all laboratory equipment
effectively this is by first before every practical understanding what certain
equipment do and their role throughout the practical. During the titration practical,
I was able to discover the actual concentration of certain substances. I was
able to find the actual concentration by preparing appropriate samples of the
substance needed.


I have used skills such as reading a thermometer accurately
in my Btec experiments by avoiding parallax error when reading measurements as
I always view the thermometer at eye level. Knowing how to calibrate a
thermometer is a great skill that I have learnt as I can use the same process
to calibrate and thermometer to check if it is working to the best that it can
for the practical that I will be doing.


New skills   


Practical skills    

I have learnt new skills such as weighing to three decimal
places when weighing substances during Chemistry practicals. This gives a more
accurate result for my experiment as it is to three decimal places by giving a
more precise reading as the value is exact to three decimal places.


I have to now think of the risk assessments myself whereas
before the teacher would give us the risk assessments and ask us how we could
avoid them. We think about the risk assessments instead of being told them and
now in Btec science I have learnt to carry out risk assessments myself. I am
now more aware of risks than I was before because now I make the risk
assessments myself. An example of this is before doing any practical I would
make a risk assessment such as in Physics when I experimented to find out the
cooling point and melting point of stearic acid. I carefully analysed the
potential risked that could be involved in that experiment .e.g. spillages of
acid can cause irritation if it meets skin. In my risk assessment, I also discovered
ways in which I could prevent these risks causing harm e.g. clearing spillages
straight away.


I have learnt to carry out titrations using an indicator
solution whereas before I had not learnt how to do titrations and now I can
confidently do titrations to determine the concentration of substances. I will
carry on using titrations during my Btec course to determine concentrations of
substances. An example of this is using hydrochloric acid to find the
concentration of sodium hydroxide using titration.

I work more independently than before even though I still
work under the support and supervision of teacher’s e.g. I am given instructions
and I am expected to follow them correctly and on my own or as a group. This
helps with how I apply myself during lessons as I am expected to follow
instructions and if I don’t understand the instructions then I am recommended
to ask for the support of teachers and through the research that I do (this
should be added in for reference). I am able to research to greater depth when
doing research e.g. I break down my research into specific categories and I add
detail into each section that I have researched. The research that we do has to
be carefully written up as nothing is to be copied and another skill I have
learnt is putting research into my own words otherwise they the work that I
submit will be considered as plagiarism if the words are copied word for word.

I have learnt to keep my work area tidy whereas before in
GCSE and KS3 after practicals we would leave the equipment’s where they were (where
the practical had been done) and now we make sure all used equipment go in the
used equipment area and the other equipment go back into the correct places
from which we got them. It is necessary to put away all equipment after its use
for health and safety reasons, this is so that no one is to fall over the
equipment or become exposed to any of the chemicals that would otherwise be
left out. All the chemicals that we use in our practicals are thoroughly
checked by lab technicians and these chemicals will have HAS (health and
safety) cards on them to inform the person using it how hazardous the chemical
is and how the chemical should be used.     

We repeat the practicals that we do; this is to increase
skill during the practicals and to increase the accuracy in what we are doing.
When doing practicals in GCSE before, we would normally only do the experiment once
with no repeats unless more trials were required for the experiment. It is important to repeat to get
a repeatable and more accurate result and to repeating often can be useful when
trying to see whether a result is reproducible. I have developed
practical skills of calibrating e.g. I would put a thermometer in crushed ice
for it to reach 0 °C as this is the freezing point and I put the thermometer in
boiling water on top of a Bunsen burner for it to reach 100°C as this is the
boiling point. This is different from GCSE and KS3 when we would just be given
a calibrated thermometer or calibrated machinery. This skill of calibration is
very useful and important as it makes sure the results I gain are accurate and
this can prevent anomalous results.

I have gained the ability to calculate the percentage
difference and this is by taking away my result from the actual result and he
dividing the actual result to then multiplying the answer by one hundred giving
me the percentage difference. The percentage difference shows me how far my
result was from the actual result. I can now use this in future practicals and
for scientific knowledge when making graphs.


Scientific knowledge

When doing the stearic acid practical I learnt about how the
atoms and molecules move during cooling and melting. This helped me to
understand the process that was occurring as the stearic acid was melting and
cooling. The scientific knowledge can be extremely useful when predicting what
could happen during the experiment and when explaining why and how certain
things take place. An example of this is as the liquid turns to solid or vice
versa the temperature will not change as the kinetic energy of the atoms or
molecules do not change.

When reading results from the thermometer, I know to view
the thermometer at eye level to avoid parallax error this can give us a more
accurate result, which is recorded.


I did not know how to do titrations before and now I can
discover the concentration of substances using titration. I can develop my
knowledge of titrations by repeating the process, which means I will be able to
find out different concentrations. When checking the pH of substances I establish
what types of substances are alkalis and what substances are acid. This is
useful when I need certain pH in substances e.g. if I want to make a compound
or substance neutral. I am required to use scientific knowledge to create my
own hypothesis for every practical that I do, an example of this is Ohms law=
resistance is directionally proportional to the length this tells me that the
resistance will increase as the length increases (used for the resistance of an
unknown material practical).


How could I
develop these skills?

Now that I am able to carry out risk assessments, it would
be useful to know the correct and most secure procedure in how to deal with the
problems that may arise. It can be time consuming to calibrate the thermometer
by using crushed ice and using a Bunsen burner to boil the water and instead of
this a data logger can be used which digitally gives an accurate reading of the
temperature and is easy to calibrate and this can also avoid parallax error. An
automated pipette can improve accuracy unlike using a normal pipette, which is
not as accurate.


·As the school does not have loads of data loggers this
means that they cannot always be used for practicals, this limits the
development of these skills, as I am restricted in the equipment that I can
use. This means unable to use a data logger for many practicals, which means I
will not get the practice that is necessary to confidently use a data logger.


When measuring the rate of cooling of stearic acid there
could have been a draft which can affect the measurements and cause there to be
an anomalous result this can be avoided by making sure that there are no drafts
in the room this will make the results more accurate. Having too large
intervals can cause us to miss the cooling/ melting point of the stearic acid
when measuring the temperature. Having impurities in the wax can also affect
the melting / cooling point, this can be prevented by melting, and filtering
the wax before it is used for the experiment. The funnel should not be left in
the burette after it is filled as this can cause anomalous results because the
funnel can create a mistake in the measurements. When I used a digital
thermometer to measure, the temperature there was an error though it was more
accurate than a manual thermometer the digital thermometer would drift making
it hard to get a result straight away. Calibrating the thermometer was time
consuming as we crushed ice and created boiling water using a Bunsen burner. There
could have been sources of error as we did not check the starting temperature
e.g. whether it was 0°C when it started or when it was in the ice I can make
this more accurate by recording the starting temperature of the ice and water.


It was important that I collaborated with classmates as this
means I can see if my results are repeatable and I can see if they are reliable
e.g. if we got the same results I know that the results are repeatable. This
would be different in the science industry as I would need to do the experiment
more times and receive many results from others e.g. collaboration with other
companies. If we did not collaborate with other companies then the results I
gained would not be reliable.


Standards and protocols

All deadlines need to be met for assignments.

The assignment brief tells us what we need to do
to achieve the grades that we want.

Risk assessments are necessary in order to keep
the experiment safe.

We need to appropriately dispose of the waste
e.g. after chemicals have been used and are no longer necessary they should be
poured down the sink so that it is not left out which can possibly harm

We must have scientific knowledge of the
equipment that I am using so that I can get the best out of using them and it
ensures that I get a more precise result from my practical because I am using
the equipment appropriately.

We should be aware of the equipment that we are
authorised to move and the equipment we are restricted from using (this is to
secure safety).

Glassware should be carefully moved and
correctly used.


An industry expert gave us examples of what we needed to do
if we were in a lab and this talk included how to use accuracy, precision,
validity and reliability appropriately. These words are keywords when working
in the lab and it is important that these words are used appropriately in order
to express information clearly.


Accuracy = ‘how close the readings are to the actual values.’

Precision = ‘how close repeat readings are to each other.’

Validity = ‘the state of being officially binding
or acceptable.’

Reliability = ‘how trustworthy the data is.’

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