Science Coursework B Biology

What is Coursework B?

Coursework B is a project based assessment completed as part of the Junior Cert Science course. 

The concept is quite can earn up to 25% of your junior science mark before you sit the exam by completing 2 investigations*.  The states exam commission (the folks who write the exam) give you three titles one from each area of science (Chemistry, Biology and Physics) and you pick two. 

* you can do two prescribed investigations (you are given the title) or one investigation were you decide the title yourself (you should discuss this with your teacher before deciding)

What are this years titles?

Investigate and compare the quantitative effects of changing
(a) concentration of solution,
(b) type of solute used
on the change in mass of a sample of potato placed in distilled water, salt solution and sugar solution.

Investigate and compare the quantitative effects of changing
(a) applied voltage,
(b) concentration of sulfuric acid on the rate of production of either hydrogen or oxygen gas during the electrolysis of acidified water.

Investigate and compare the quantitative effects of changing
(a) hair colour,
(b) the usage of shampoo or similar commercial hair treatments
on the tensile strength of hair taken from the human head.

Where do I Start?

1. The Independent Variable (what I will change - 1 thing)
2. The Dependent Variable (what I will measure - 1 thing)
3. The controlled Variable (what i will keep the same - as many as you can!)

Writing Up....Help!!!

Part 1 (Introduction)
(i) Statement or problem to be investigated -
This is what you are going to do but in your own words

(ii) Background research undertaken - No doubt you will have to look up a few website and books to find information for your investigation. You may even have to ask your teacher or someone at home for information. This is your background research you will need to give at least 3 pieces of background research.
Make sure for all three you mention where you got the piece of information and what you used it for.

Part 2 (Preparation and Planning)
(i) Variables1. The Independent Variable (what I will change - 1 thing)*
2. The Dependent Variable (what I will measure - 1 thing)*
3. The controlled Variable (what i will keep the same - as many as you can!)

*In an experiment were you have investigate two factors, you would only change one at a time (essentially do two separate investigations and compare the results of both)

(ii)Equipment: Be sure to list every piece of equipment you use, leave nothing out!

(iii)Tasks: This is the list of jobs that need to be done, here are a few examples..
I will juice and filter the juice from 3 types of fruit
I will measure out equal amounts of each type of juice.
I will make sure all of the juices are at the same temperature before I start the experiment
and so on you should have at least 5 or 6 of these.

Part 3 (Procedures, apparatus etc.)
(i) Safety - don't just say I wore safety glasses say why! For example I wore safety glasses and a labcoat becuse acids are corrosive. (you need at least two safety precautions)

(ii + iii) Procedure with diagram - The best advice I can give is to write it like a recipe if a person cannot copy the experiment using what you have written its no good and you need to do it again

(iv) Data and observations -Decide what results you are going to take and when you are going to take them before the experiment. 
Make up a data table before you start your experiment so you can record your measurements assoon as you observe them. This will ensure that you are consistent in the way that you record your results and it will also make it easier to analyse 

Measurements should be clearly laid out in a graph and/or table form.   

If your experiment involves any colour changes this is where you mention it.  Was there anything else you noticed when doing the experiment whatever it is no matter how small, include it. 
Other observations to note include
· Did you encounter any problems with the experimental method?
· Did you notice any interesting patterns happening?
Part 4 (Analysis)

(i) Calculations and Data Analysis - Make sure you outline any calculations or formulae that you used.
Some useful sentence starters in this section are:
· I can see from my results that …………………………..
· When I changed …........., ………………….. changed by…………
· From the graph I can see that ……………………………….

(ii) Conclusion and Evaluation of resultAnswer some of the following questions in your written report.
· Do your results answer the question you were asking at the start?
· Were the results what you were expecting?
· Is there a trend in your results or did anything unusual happen?
· If you got an unusual result why do you think this happened?
· If you drew a graph did you get a straight line or a curve – what does this show?

Part 5 (comments)
(i) Refinements, extensions and sources of error
· Do your results answer the what you were trying to find out
· Were you surprised by these results
· Was there anything that might have affected your results.
· Are there any changes you would make if you could do the experiment again.
· Is there any way of making it more accurate.
· Does your investigation have any real life applications.
· Could you develop your experiment further, how?

Resources that may be of help...more to follow

File Size: 490 kb
File Type: pdf
Download File

Planning your experiment
File Size: 20 kb
File Type: docx
Download File

File Size: 23 kb
File Type: docx
Download File

Read up on variables

want to learn more about variables
File Size: 557 kb
File Type: ppt
Download File

The study of Science entails practical laboratory work (experiments) along with the study of theory. In the modern world where advances in Science and Technology are bringing great changes to our lives, the study of Science is particularly relevant to help people assess the implication of these developments.

The study of Science at Junior Certificate level involves the study of Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Applied Science.

Junior Certificate Science marks are distributed as follows:

  • Coursework A – 10%    (Experiments and investigations specified in the syllabus)
  • Coursework B – 25%    (2 specified investigations)
  • Terminal examination – 65%    (Section 1 – Biology / Section 2 – Chemistry / Section 3 – Physics)Science branches into 3 separate subjects for the Leaving Certificate:
  • Biology.
  • Chemistry.
  • Physics.

Coursework B
Student Investigations Each student is required to undertake two specified investigations in their third year and to submit a pro forma report on these for assessment. These additional investigations, based on the topics and learning outcomes in the syllabus, will be set by the examining body and will vary from year to year. These investigations account for 25% of the students final Junior Certificate grade and will require substantial time investment, by the student, during the year. Students will be notified of the investigation titles well in advance of the laboratory time they will be allocated to conduct the investigations, and this laboratory time-slot cannot be altered. DES deadlines for submission by the students of their report must be adhered to, and, in order to prevent missed deadlines, students are expected to exercise due diligence in the preparation, planning and conduct of their chosen investigations. Students who fail to do so will not be given additional time, and reports still incomplete come deadline, will be submitted as is.

Investigation Titles 2013

Compare by means of investigation the vitamin C content of a number of commercial and fresh fruit juices.

Compare by means of investigation methanol, propan-1-ol and candle wax in terms of their effectiveness as fuels.

Investigate any two factors that affect the output from a solar cell when light is shone on it.


We have developed a blank copy of the Coursework for your use.  It differs slightly from the state examinations booklet in that we have specified how many resources you reference, how many safety aspects you must specify, etc…(Note – these numbers are a minimum).  A copy of a blank Coursework B booklet can be found here.

Additional coursework B material can be found in the table below to help you with your projects.Summaries:
The following table contains a summary of all the JC Science chapters complete with appropriate past questions.  It is an excellent revision guide.

There is a shortage of people in Ireland with training in Science and Technology to meet our current needs. It is also important to remember that a Science subject is required at Leaving Cert level for some third level courses, e.g. Medicine, Pharmacy, Engineering, Food Science etc.

Students’ Corner:

To remember the characteristics of life:

Real Elephants Noses Grow Really Really Massive

Respiration. Excretion. Nutrition.Growth. Reproduction.Responsivity.Movement

Useful websites:

Department of Education and Science sites:URL:
Department of Education and Science
State Examinations Commission
National Council for Curriculum and Assessment
Scoilnet, the NCTE schools website
Teacher Support Network sites:URL:
Second Level Support Service – Physics and Chemistry
Biology Support Service
Chemistry Support Service
Physics Support Service
Irish Science Teachers’ Association – membership is   open to all teachers of science
The Association for Science Education (UK) –   membership is open to all teachers of science
National Science Teachers Assocation (USA) – membership   is open to all teachers of science
Resource sites:URL:
Concept Cartoons offer excellent starting points for   discussion and thinking
Science Enhancement Programme – focuses on scientific   enquiry and practical work, scientific knowledge and conceptual   understanding, scientific research and developments
Drawing tool for both teachers and pupils
Puzzle makers
Crossword construction kit
Wordsearch construction kit
Hot Potatoes software – construct crosswords,   wordsearches, cloze test, matching exercises
Chemical Jigsaw Puzzle
PhET – Physics Education Technology, interactive   physics animations from the Unversity of Colorado
Freezeray Interactive Science Resources
BBC Schools site – human body interactive games
Science photograph library – teachers can register,   then download and use the images, as long as credit for source is given
Science Smarties – a variety of assessments for each   topic of the Junior Cert. syllabus, from a TeachNet Ireland site
Science, Technology and Society sitesURL:
Ingenious Ireland
The science behind the news
Science and technology in
Science trail at the science centre, Birr
General Interest sites:URL: has a section on science
How Stuff Works
Natural History Museum of Ireland
Explore materials science
NASA Astrobiology Institute
Exploratorium – interactive with many DIY experiments
Timeline for events in science and mathematics
European Space Agency Human Spaceflight – teachers   can request a free copy of the Education Kit aimed at students aged 12-15


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