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Surface Area: Volume Ratio Investigation

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Surface Area: Volume Ratio


I am going to do an experiment to find out how heat loss is affected by surface area to volume ratio. I will make this investigation as safe as possible by wearing goggles, and using a kettle rather than a Bunsen burner to avoid unnecessary danger. Also I will make the experiment as fair as possible by: -

  • Making my measurements as accurate as possible
  • I will repeat each part of the experiment 3 times and work out an average, using a mean average as I think this is most suitable for this experiment.
  • I will keep everything apart from the surface area to volume ratio the same.

Although I will make the experiment as fair as I possibly can there may be other factors (which I cannot control) that may effect the results such as: -

  • The surface area may not be exact because the variables are not exact cylinder shapes.
  • Heat may escape from the water while I am pouring it into the glassware.
  • Human error e.g. misreading measurements

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Small test tube


Boiling tube


Small 100ml beaker


Medium 200ml beaker


Large 500ml beaker

These vessels are arranged in order of size starting with the smallest.

Vessel n°

Surface area: Volume ratio

Average Temp after 5 mins (°C)

Average Heat Loss (°C)





















To work out the surface area: volume ratio of each variable I did the following: -

  1. Worked out the volume using the formula: -

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Generally I did obtain the results I expected, even though I obtained one anomalous result. My prediction was based on my homeostasis, my prediction was correct when not accounting for the anomalies. Homeostasis is the maintenance of a constant internal environment, by balancing bodily inputs and outputs and removing waste products by an animal. The vessel represented the job of the skin in homeostasis (see planning).

Vessel three suggests that my prediction was incorrect but because I did the experiment with 4 other vessels, which follow a pattern, I decided this must be an anomalous result. It is probably likely that I miss read the temperature; if I did the procedure again I would double check the temperature reading. Also to improve the procedure I would double check my calculations, make sure there is no breeze and keep all vessels in the same place.

I don’t think the results are very reliable because there are a lot of things that could be improved with the procedure. I do think the results are fairly reliable as they are correct in theory.

Leonie Heaton

...read more.

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