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Skills Sessions - Part 1

During the first half of Michaelmas term you will conduct a set of experiments. These are designed to familiarise you with the absolute basics of experimental physics: good laboratory practice, and good lab book keeping.

Report writing guidelines


Circuits 1

In this session learn how voltage & current are divided in a circuit (Kirchhoff's Laws), build simple electrical circuits and practice creating graphs
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Circuits 2

Use time varying voltages in RC circuits, practice using an oscilloscope, understand Lissajous figures and measure phase shifts in RC circuits
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Bifilar Pendulum

Learn to use dimensional analysis to derive unknown equations. Use a bifilar pendulum, logarithms when plotting graphs and practice curve fitting
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Projectile Motion

Investigate simple laws of motion, plan and carry out straight-forward experiments as a small team, record your observations, analyse sources of error
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In Teaching week 6 you will meet with your demonstrator for one-to-one feedback where your lab book will be looked at. It is a general overview but particular note is given to the points raised in the notebook lecture given in week 2, i.e. presentation, data keeping etc. This takes up one half of the session, the other is taken up by an information/literature talk in the Library where you will be shown how to use resources to their full potential.


What are the Aims?

Once you have completed the experiments and report writing activity in Michaelmas term, we believe that you'll have gained experience in the following skills. These skills will be required in later activities, both this year and beyond. If you do not feel confident with some of them be sure to use the resources below to catch up.


Experimental skills

Lab book skills

Error Analysis

  • Record observations
  • Comment on results
  • Highlight the conclusions obtained
  • Tabulate data
  • Sketch results
  • Plot graphs including plotting logarithms
  • Make histograms
  • Calculate the mean and standard errors for repeated measurements
  • Manipulate tabulated data within spreadsheets (e.g., using the ln function, etc.)
  • Linearise data
  • Propagate errors within a spreadsheet
  • Use Excel to create graphs with title, axis labels, error bars and a trend line, within 10 minutes!
  • Calculate a line of best fit and its error using LINEST