Physics - annotated exemplar Level 3 AS91527

Use Physics knowledge to develop an informed response to a socio-scientific issue

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This annotated exemplar is intended for teacher use only. The student work shown does not always represent a complete sample of what is required. Selected extracts are used, focused on the grade boundaries, in order to assist assessors to make judgements at the national standard.

Low Excellence

Commentary
Student response

Student 1 (PDF, 1.1MB)

For Excellence, the student needs to use physics knowledge to develop an informed and comprehensive response to a socio-scientific issue.

This involves:

  • linking key physics ideas together to provide a coherent picture of the physics relevant to the socio-scientific issue
  • analysing and prioritising the physics knowledge related to the issue to justify the response.

The student has linked binding energy per nucleon to the fission of uranium and the production of energy (1).

This student has linked properties of radioactive substance and their long half-lives to the medical problems caused by radioactivity and the problems of storing used radioactive fuel (2).

This student has made a very good attempt at justifying a personal response using the pro and cons of the nuclear industry compared to fossil fuel technology (3).

For a more secure Excellence, this student could:

  • analyse the physics knowledge by discussing the minimum amount of fuel required for energy generation and link this to the production of nuclear waste
  • prioritise information by commenting on sources and information, considering ideas such as validity (date, peer reviewed, scientific acceptance), bias (attitudes, values, beliefs) and weighing up how science ideas are used by different groups (e.g. power companies versus consumers).

High Merit

Commentary
Student response

Student 2 (PDF, 1.5MB)

For Merit, the student needs to use physics knowledge to develop an informed and reasoned response to a socio-scientific issue.

This involves:

  • explaining how or why the key physics ideas relate to the socio-scientific issue
  • justifying the personal response using relevant physics knowledge to explain why the position and the action(s) have been chosen.

This student has explained how the climate is determined by the gain of energy by the Earth’s system versus the energy loss (1), has calculated the temperature of the Earth without greenhouses (2) and with 100% greenhouse gases (3), and has explained why greenhouse gases are so significant in terms of climate change (4).  This student has justified the requirement to control the albedo effect of the planet and prevent its alteration by greenhouse gases (5).

To reach Excellence, the student could relate the key physics ideas more clearly to the socio-scientific issue by recommending a course of action to the target audience (the Climate Change Minister of New Zealand).

Low Merit

Commentary
Student response

Student 3 (PDF, 1.1MB)

For Merit, the student needs to use physics knowledge to develop an informed and reasoned response to a socio-scientific issue.

This involves:

  • explaining how or why the key physics ideas relate to the socio-scientific issue
  • justifying the personal response using relevant physics knowledge to explain why the position and the action(s) have been chosen.

This student has explained how the nuclear power is generated (1), albeit at National Curriculum Level 7 but then has linked this to the storage of nuclear waste (2), and has described some of the biological effects of different levels of radioactivity. The student has justified their personal response using relevant physics knowledge to explain why the position and the action(s) have been chosen (3).

For a more secure Merit, this student could relate the key physics ideas more clearly to the socio-scientific issue by:

  • relate the key physics ideas to the issue more clearly by explaining what nuclear waste is and how it is produced, and/or explaining what a nuclear meltdown is and its repercussions
  • relate the key physics ideas to the issue more clearly by explaining the effect of mass deficit on the energy produced by nuclear fission
  • justify the personal response better by providing quantitative data on the amount of energy produced per gram of fuel for different fuels and/or that produced by renewable energy resources.

High Achieved

Commentary
Student response

Student 4 (PDF, 926KB)

For Achieved, the student needs to use physics knowledge to develop an informed response to a socio-scientific issue.

This involves:

  • explaining the key physics ideas relating to the socio-scientific issue
  • presenting a personal response and proposing action(s) at a personal and/ or societal level, using relevant physics knowledge.

The student has described how the Large Hadron Collider accelerates protons to a very high speed (1), described the standard model and the missing Higgs Boson particle (2), and made a limited presentation of a personal position, proposing action(s) using relevant physics knowledge (3).

To reach Merit, this student could:

  • relate the physics ideas to the issue by explaining how the Large Hadron Collider accelerates protons by electromagnetic induction
  • explain their position based upon the physics of whether the high-energy particles are safe (as opposed to how much they cost).

Low Achieved

Commentary
Student response

Student 5 (PDF, 1.5MB)

For Achieved, the student needs to use physics knowledge to develop an informed response to a socio-scientific issue.

This involves:

  • explaining the key physics ideas relating to the socio-scientific issue
  • presenting a personal response and proposing action(s) at a personal and/ or societal level, using relevant physics knowledge.

This student has attempted to describe how a nuclear reactor works, albeit at National Curriculum Level 7 (1), and attempted to describe the biological damage of gamma radiation and described how half-life is a factor when considering nuclear waste/leakage (2). This student made a limited presentation of a personal position, and proposed action(s) using relevant physics knowledge including a description of the energy benefits and recommendation based upon the dangers of radioactivity in a New Zealand setting (3).

For a more secure Achieved, this student could:

  • relate the key physics ideas to the issue more clearly by describing what nuclear waste is and how it is produced
  • relate the key physics ideas to the issue more clearly by describing the effect of mass deficit on the energy produced by nuclear fission
  • relate the key physics ideas to the issue more clearly by linking the biological damage of radioactivity to its properties.

High Not Achieved

Commentary
Student response

Student 6 (PDF, 721KB)

For Achieved, the student needs to use physics knowledge to develop an informed response to a socio-scientific issue.

This involves:

  • explaining the key physics ideas relating to the socio-scientific issue
  • presenting a personal response and proposing action(s) at a personal and/ or societal level, using relevant physics knowledge.

There is little evidence of explaining the key physics ideas relating to nuclear power at National Curriculum Level 8. The descriptions are at National Curriculum Level 6. This student has made a limited presentation of a personal position, and proposed action(s) without using relevant physics.

To reach Achieved, this student could:

  • describe the physics of nuclear power generation and nuclear waste based on descriptions of key physics ideas such as mass deficit and binding energy
  • present a personal position based on physics relevant to nuclear power.
 
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