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NSW Syllabuses

Investigating Science Stage 6 - Year 12 - Module 5: Scientific Investigations Module 5: Scientific investigations


A student:

  • INS11/12-1

    develops and evaluates questions and hypotheses for scientific investigation

  • INS11/12-2

    designs and evaluates investigations in order to obtain primary and secondary data and information

  • INS11/12-3

    conducts investigations to collect valid and reliable primary and secondary data and information

  • INS12-12

    develops and evaluates the process of undertaking scientific investigations

Related Life Skills outcomes: SCLS6-1, SCLS6-2, SCLS6-3, SCLS6-11

Content Focus

Students learn that the experimental method is a dynamic process influenced by initial observations, new evidence, unexpected results or phenomena arising from the investigation. They examine the interrelated roles of practical and secondary-sourced investigations. When conducting practical and secondary-sourced investigations, students use peer feedback to refine their investigative designs and report on their findings.

Students explore the importance of accuracy, validity and reliability in relation to the investigative work of a scientist. They examine the differences between a scientific investigation and a scientific report, recognising that although the report format follows a sequential order, the investigation need not.

Working Scientifically

In this module, students focus on: developing and evaluating hypotheses and questions; designing and evaluating investigations; and undertaking valid scientific investigations. Students should be provided with opportunities to engage with all Working Scientifically skills throughout the course.



  • Practical Investigations to Obtain Primary Data

  • Inquiry question: What initiates an investigation?
  • Students:
  • research the factors that led scientists to investigate the following, including but not limited to: ictcc
  • peptic ulcers (Marshall and Warren)
  • plant growth (Von Helmont)
  • microwaves (Spencer)
  • propose a reason for the scientists undertaking their investigations above by examining the type of data or information that they sought, for example: cct
  • finding relationships or patterns in identified phenomena
  • testing the conclusion of a previous investigation
  • utilising scientific knowledge and understanding to make more accurate predictions and develop new technologies
  • determine the hypotheses that were tested in each of the scientific investigations above
  • describe where deviations from the traditional and linear models of scientific methodology were necessary in order to test each hypothesis in the investigations above
  • Different Types of Scientific Investigations

  • Inquiry question: What type of methodology best suits a scientific investigation?
  • Students:
  • using examples, evaluate the objectives and data collected in an investigation by a recognised scientist or team of scientists, including but not limited to: lcct
  • Marshall and Warren and peptic ulcers
  • Eratosthenes and Earth’s circumference
  • Doppler and the Doppler effect
  • Priestley’s experiments with oxygen
  • evaluate the methodology of the scientific investigations above by: ictl
  • justifying the method chosen based on the subject of the investigation and the context, for example: experimental testing, fieldwork, locating and using information sources, conducting surveys and using modelling and simulations
  • evaluating the relevance of the investigation by considering the peer-reviewed literature in the area of study cctl
  • justifying the suitability of the type of data that is to be collected cctln
  • Student Investigation

  • Students:
  • develop a method most appropriate to test a hypothesis following observation
  • justify the type of methodology used to test the hypothesis
  • Reliability and Validity

  • Inquiry question: How is the integrity of a scientific investigation judged?
  • Students:
  • evaluate the design of the student investigation by:
  • explaining the choice of independent, dependent and controlled variables  with reference to the research question cct
  • explaining the sample selection and sample sizes used for gathering data cct
  • justifying the suitability of materials used based on their relevance to the research question, availability, cost, risk and familiarity of use cct
  • assessing the ethics of conducting the investigation by considering confidentiality, humane treatment and animal welfare eu
  • predicting an achievable time frame to conduct the investigation
  • justifying working individually or collaboratively psc
  • conduct the planned investigation and collect, record and analyse primary data
  • draw a conclusion or conclusions, and suggest further investigation or research by:
  • analysing the results and interpreting the data cctln
  • explaining the relevance of the findings of the investigation in relation to the inquiry question and hypothesis cctict
  • justifying the methodology and any changes made to improve the data collected cct
  • describing potential beneficial and harmful consequences when the findings are applied to a real-world scenario we
  • evaluate the validity of the investigation by determining whether the tests measured what they were intended to measure
  • evaluate the reliability of the investigation by determining:
  • consistency of the results obtained
  • measures taken to reduce error
  • Reporting

  • Inquiry question: What is the structure of an investigative report?
  • Students:
  • review a published and peer-reviewed scientific report to determine the conventions of writing a report on a practical investigation  ictl
  • use a sample of a published and peer-reviewed secondary source to identify: cctictlpscdd
  • the purpose of the report
  • measures taken to reduce error
  • the language style used
  • the presentation and structure of the report
  • compare and contrast the structures and functions of a scientific investigation and its written report cctl
  • prepare a report on the student investigation that was carried out cctictl