Junior Cert Science Investigations

Our third years have started their junior cert investigations. The physics version is to compare the insulating ability of different materials.

Seems very basic, in fact too simple to qualify as an investigation at this level.

Until you try it out.

I don’t have third years this year but I walked in to PO’s class to see how he was getting on . They were starting off with a control: Putting 100 ml of water into an uninsulated calorimeter and plotting a cooling curve.
But they ran into problems straight away. It took ages for the water to cool down from a starting temp of 80 degrees.  So they are wondering how they will manage when it is insulated.

One student came up with the clever idea of using a set time and noting the temperature drop for different materials.

Others suggested using a smaller volume of water to begin with. So then we had to decide which was the best idea, and more importantly how would we decide which was the best idea.

Test them by experiment – bingo. 

Now we were getting into it. Conflicting ideas, not quite getting published in a peer-reviewed journal, but nevertheless good stuff. Next we will look at whether we can carry out valid comparisons, but just arguing over it introduces a personal ownership factor as opposed to just following the traditional cook-book receipe.

Then there is still the issue of making sure ‘amounts’ are equal; equal by volume or equal by mass?
And oh my goodness, what if there is no one right answer?

Their homework was to come up with their own ‘hypothesis’; not which was the best insulating material, but rather which is the best way to test this.
Then the bell went and they reminded us that we wouldn’t see them again until  January.
Oh well.

I discussed this with PO last year.
The key is for us teachers to get comfortable with this approach and try to adapt all experiments so that they can be carried out in this manner. There may just be hope for us yet.


  1. I am trying to get some research on the biology experiment: Investigate the relationship between reaction temperature and the effectiveness of action of the enzyme amylase on starch does anyone know any website or anything on this experiment?

  2. Hi Amelia,
    I just got notice of the Junior Cert projects so only now realise what you are asking about..
    Keep checking in to the lastest posts and if I find out anything I’ll stick it up on the blog.
    Just as a matter of interest, are you a student or teacher?

  3. im doing the same expiriment as amelia and dont know where to get information can you give me some websites to look up?

  4. Thanks for that site ozymandias1. It really helped. Would anybody have any good sites for “Qualitatively investigate the effectiveness of three methods of preventing an object containing iron from corrosion.” That’s the chemistry one. I’m finding it really hard to find any info.

    If anybody has any sites, could you please let me know? It’s urgent!

  5. hey
    im doin the physics experiment but i cant find any sites with info without paying for it
    if anyone knows about a site can you please tell me

  6. hey
    i’ve just been told that i have biology experiment and a chemistry dew for monday, i have no idea of what to da (CAN U HELP ME PLZ)

  7. hey eh im doin dese expirements aswell ive seen dese websites nd dere reli gud but my teacher says not 2 copy straight 4m it i was wonderin if nyone had nymore websites especially 2 do wit de chemistry one ny help wud b greatly appreciated!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. Hey lisa i no its probly a bit late but for chemistry get 3 nails, spray paint one, greas one and then leave one as it is and put the 3 of them half in water….;-) hope it helps u..

  9. hey xoxo i dont no hu you are but you sound like a pretty hot girl…. wish i had some info for ya and your number…

  10. hi,thanks so much for the info,it will be a huge help to me as my science teacher hasnt even started our experiments with us,we havent even finished the couse yet…thanks again!

  11. hi
    im doin the biology experiment thursday! n i cnt find ne info on t!!
    f any one can tell me ne tin bout t pleez post a comment!!

  12. How do you investigate the relationship between reaction temperature and the effectiveness of action of hte enzyme on starch?

  13. Does Anyone Have An Ideas Which Expirement Dis is? Investigate the relationship between the size of the eletric current passing through a length of wire and its heating effect.

  14. it sounds like the phsics 1 but cant be completly positive, i wish i was doin dat but im stuck wit chemistry nd biology.
    btw tanks ozymandias, dat made my life a lot easier!

    u pervey, hormonal, desperate teen, your admirer……… dats just weird!

  15. Hi i am trying to do this physics experiment to investigate the relationship between the size of the electric current passing through a length of wire and it`s heating effect and i was wondering if someone could give me some websites?

  16. hey… doin my science investigations( the chemistry nd physics ones) nd dont understand nothing if anyone knew any good sites it wud b so helpfull.


  17. Hey. im doing the physics experiment and i need to do the write up 2morrow but cant find any websites for it…..
    The experiment is Investigate the relationship between the size of the electric current passing through a length of wire and its heating effect. Can anyone send me the wesites please…Thank You X

  18. hey popa:)fancy meeting you here:L
    i’m afraid the best i’ve found is this site and loreto balbriggan’s?!
    i’ll blog you when i find something!
    if only ppl here knew:(

  19. popa can’t find anything,any luck?
    anyone out on this super cool web-site able to find any USEFUL info for physics???

  20. any1 got any usefull websites 4 d chemistry experiment? Qualitatively investigate the effectiveness of three methods of preventing an object containing iron from corrosion.
    message bak real fast plz!

    1. so do i! da one bout wat affects its distance after it rolls down a ramp..i need huge help with that pls…i have it due for friday and i am still clueless

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