6. Technologies


The rapid development of new technologies has enhanced industrial and agricultural processes, medical applications and communications. Students explore the dynamic relationship between science and technology, where the continuing advancement of science is dependent on the development of new tools and materials. They also examine how advances in science inform the development of new technologies, and so reflect the interdependence of science and technology.

Students consider experimental risks as they engage with the skills of Working Scientifically. They investigate the appropriateness of using a range of technologies in conducting practical investigations, including those that provide an accurate measurement.

In this module, students focus on developing hypotheses and questions and process appropriate qualitative and quantitative data. They demonstrate how science drives demand for the development of further technologies. Students should be provided with opportunities to engage with all Working Scientifically skills throughout the course.



Scientific Investigation and Technology

Inquiry question 1: How does technology enhance and/or limit scientific investigation?

Some good background reading 

Design a practical investigation that uses available technologies to measure both the independent and dependent variables that produce quantitative data to measure the effect of changes of, including but not limited to:

Chemistry theory for background information on the investigations below

1.The temperature on the reaction rate

2.The temperature on the volume of gas

3. Pressure on the volume of gas 

Physics theory on the investigation below 

  1. Speed on distance travelled

For each investigation( above);

  • conduct the practical investigation to obtain relevant data and evaluate the limitations of the technologies used
Relevant data obtained from graphs

1.The directly proportional relationships and linear relationships 

  • Directly proportional relationship would be shown in a graph as passing through 0,0 origin.
  • Linear lines doe not go through the origin 0,0.
  • both can be used to calculate slope and therefore look at relationships ,like rates of change, between variables.

There is a directly proportional relationship between temperature(in Kelvin) and the volume of gas(L) This is seen in Charles law. Pressure is assumed to be constant.  


Temperature and volume of gas( Wikipedia) 


There is linear pattern in the graph with the relationship between speed and distance travelled. Time can be calculated from the gradient of distance/ speed graph.( image link

For example, these are actual student results based on  Q 17-18  of the 2020 HSC exam the following set up below. 

s.d 2

2.The inversely Proportional relationship 

From BBC bitesize If one value is inversely proportional to another then it is written using the proportionality symbol  in a different way. Inverse proportion occurs when one value increases and the other decreases. For example, more workers on a job would reduce the time to complete the task. They are inversely proportional.

The statement ‘b is inversely proportional to m’ is written:


This result occurs with the relationship between temperature and the rate of a reaction(time taken for the reaction to complete).If the amount of reactant produced is known(e. g gas collected) than the rate of the reaction can be calculated using the average gradient of the slope. That is the slope between 2 points on a graph. There is no need to used differentiation in this course .You use the average gradient between 2 points on a graph to determine the slope changes .

tem v reaction rate

Note that the gradient = 0  the reaction stops as there is not change in rate. The image above represent an experiment were the volume of gas was collected as a product of the reaction between the reactants.(image source)


This inverse relationship is also evident in the relationship between pressure and the volume (L) of a gas (Boyles law).


Pressure change v volume of gas( Wikipedia

Limitation of technology can cause errors that affect accuracy.

Random errors are caused by  fluctuations during experiments that are very difficult to control. They can be observed as slight variations in trial data and also observed  when plotted on a graph, the data points are above and below the expected result. These random errors are more prevalent if the technology lacks precision( like using a ruler than measures in cm instead of mm), or the technology is difficult to keep consistent( like a sliding gas cylinder).

Precision affects the level of uncertainly in a measurement. Low precision makes it more difficult to be certain of the actual value read. Ensure that many trials are takes to minimize the effect of random errors.

Systematic errors are due to how the experiment was controlled( this would be reflected in a method) and also how well the instruments are calibrated. Systematic errors can be observed by getting results that are higher or lower than expected( helps if you know what is expected first!)  This can happen due to not calibrating an instrument like a digital balance correctly, or measuring a distance and not factoring the gap in a ruler before zero.

Systematic errors affect that accuracy of the results obtained in a particular direction- too high or too low from what is expected. The way to reduce systematic errors is to improve the method of taking measurements and setting up equipment. Using better equipment( with more precision and low uncertainty) also helps as long as its used correctly.

Evaluating the practical’s cont

1. Analog v digital 

Note that some digital equipment can have a larger range of uncertainty than analog equipment; read the manual and take this into consideration in planning an investigation.

2. Safety 

A Continuous Cycle

Inquiry question 2: How have developments in technology led to advances in scientific theories and laws that, in turn, drive the need for further developments in technology?

A. How has technology influenced the development of Scientific theories, laws and models?

Using examples, assess the impact that developments in technologies have had on the accumulation of evidence for scientific theories, laws and models, including but not limited to:

1.Computerised simulations and models of the Earth’s geological history

2.X-ray diffraction and the discovery of the structure of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA)

3.Technology to detect radioactivity and the development of atomic theory

4. The Hadron Collider and discovery of the Higgs boson

B. How has scientific theories, laws and models led to the development of new technologies?

Using examples, assess the impact that developments in scientific theories, laws and models have had on the development of new technologies, including but not limited to:

1.The laws of refraction and reflection on the development of microscopes and telescopes.

Image source 

2. Radioactivity and radioactive decay on the development of radiotherapy and nuclear bombs

Radioactivity and radioactive decay
image source
Nuclear bombs 


3. The discovery of the structure of DNA and the development of biotechnologies to genetically modified organisms(GMOs)

image source

4.Newton’s laws and the technology required to build buildings capable of withstanding earthquakes

Newtons 3  Laws  of motion 


Image source 

How do we apply Newtons laws to reduce impacts of earthquakes on buildings? 
a pendulum in a building is used to counter inertia from ground shaking. Image source

Bioharvesting of plants from Country and Place

C. Investigate scientists’ increasing awareness of the value of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ knowledge and understanding of the medicinal and material uses of plants and, in partnership with communities, investigate the potential for ethical development of new drug treatments and synthetic chemicals through the bioharvesting of plants from Country and Place.


Image source

Some links