A-Level RP: Specific Heat Capacity

Robin and Thomas are joined by Rajani Nair (@NairPhysics) who answered a Twitter call about A-level required practicals and was whisked in front of a microphone to talk to us. If you fancy coming on to talk about an aspect of physics teaching, just drop us a line in the contact form below.

Rajani had some really interesting variations on the standard Specific Heat Capacity practical, many of which would be of interest at KS4 as well as A-level, so do have a listen. Rajani shared a wonderful memorable practical which involves throwing eggs to demonstrate that smaller forces acting over a longer time are less damaging – to eggs and people. Thomas remembers the trope about standing eggs on end – he couldn’t remember the exact myth but it turns out to be “on the equinox”.

“Dispatches with de Winter” is our new regular feature for the podcast, with PGCSE Tutor, teacher, researcher and birdsong enthusiast James de Winter recommending a gem from the field of physics education research. James is wise in the ways of teaching and research and knows there can often be a disconnect, so “Dispatches…” will aim to focus on practcial advice you can trial in your classroom. James starts us off with an absolute cracker of a read: 5 Easy Lessons by Randall D Knight.

This is our last episode before half term so THANK YOU for listening, contributing, but most of all for teaching this wonderful subject. Have a well-earned break and drop us a line to say hi if you get a moment. You could follow in Rajani’s footsteps and be next episode’s guest. Don’t worry, next to Thomas and Robin, you’ll come off like Einstein! Happy Half-term everybody!

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Please share ideas or successes – or indeed questions – on our Facebook Page: https://fb.me/physicstp .  You can also message us via our website contact form at the.physicsteachingpodcast.com, Twitter @physicstp, email using  the address given in the podcast (if we remember) or by leaving a voice memo using WhatsApp or Telegram to the phone number in our Twitter profile, +44 7898 814716 (don’t call the number, nobody will answer, just hold down the microphone icon and speak your message or upload an mp3 or ogg). Don’t forget to tell us your name because we may use your audio in a future episode.

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IoP Domains

Thomas and Robin mull over the recent Nobel Prize for Physics, then chat to Carole Kenrick about IoP Domains and zines.

The Nobel Prize is still the ultimate accolade and viewed with envy by the fields that don’t have a Nobel Prize (in your face, maths!). This week we start by congratulating the three winners of the 2020 physics prize: Roger Penrose, Reinhard Genzel, and Andrea Ghez.

We catch up with Carole Kenrick (sadly without Benji the cat – see episode 8 of season 1 – he was hungry and had to be banished). Carole tells us about IOP Domains – a distillation of CPD resources made by our great friends and former colleagues at IOP. Links are below, and well worth checking out if you are teaching some physics and would like a bit of focused, high-quality CPD presented by some of the best in the business, then check out domains from IOP!

Carole also introduced us to ‘Zines’ – short sharp publications that raise awareness of breadth and diversity in physics – sadly aspects of the subject that are often neglected! Carole tells us how we can turn this into a game format that can engage students and teachers and raise awareness by stealth.

We reflect on how we have changed practice for the better – even amongst all the disruption of Covid – thanks to your tips and generous sharing of practice so a warm and heartfelt thank you. If you do have anything that you think might benefit the physics teaching community, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Links

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Please share ideas or successes – or indeed questions – on our Facebook Page: https://fb.me/physicstp .  You can also message us via our website contact form at the.physicsteachingpodcast.com, Twitter @physicstp, email using  the address given in the podcast (if we remember) or by leaving a voice memo using WhatsApp or Telegram to the phone number in our Twitter profile, +44 7898 814716 (don’t call the number, nobody will answer, just hold down the microphone icon and speak your message or upload an mp3 or ogg). Don’t forget to tell us your name because we may use your audio in a future episode.

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Ways To Teach… Under Covid Restrictions

(aka Elysia and her Magic Box of Physics)

Robin and Thomas meet Elysia (@PhysicsMumma) who helps them talk through the dear listener’s ideas for teaching under the current social distancing guidelines. She then talks them through her box of physics and introduces Frank the Flamingo.

Thank you so much for making such a great job of teaching with the Covid restrictions! Given the circumstances, schools have done an extraordinary job, and this episode shows how teachers will always find a silver lining. We get a raft of ideas from folk turning the situation to their advantage; for example using visualisers to zero in on the crucial points of practicals, using OneNote to ‘write’ equations for you… we could go on.

… and of course we are trying to fill the void with our excitement for physics! Lots of us jumping up and down and miming longitudinal waves. Future generations will have a precious clutch oif anecdotes about their “weird physics teacher”.

So put the earpods in and enjoy a whole stack of ideas for teaching in Covid and starting to build your “physics box”. What’s in yours??

Links

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Please share ideas or successes – or indeed questions – on our Facebook Page: https://fb.me/physicstp .  You can also message us via our website contact form at the.physicsteachingpodcast.com, Twitter @physicstp, email using  the address given in the podcast (if we remember) or by leaving a voice memo using WhatsApp or Telegram to the phone number in our Twitter profile, +44 7898 814716 (don’t call the number, nobody will answer, just hold down the microphone icon and speak your message or upload an mp3 or ogg). Don’t forget to tell us your name because we may use your audio in a future episode.

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From Darkest Peru

WARNING: the following content contains numerous cheap references to Paddington Bear – see links.

Matt Bowman

Way back at the beginning of series one we were thrilled to hear from an international school teacher named Matt who had just landed in Lima (presumably bearing a label saying “Please look after this physics teacher”). Fast forward two years and we have finally managed to organise a chat with the fabulous Matt Bowman.

Matt kindly shares his thoughts on working abroad, with numerous tips and inside observations. If you are thinking of a spell working overseas, Matt’s advice is absolutely essential so have a listen and be inspired! Links to the plum international physics teaching jobs from TES, below.

Thomas was about to fix Matt with a particularly hard star over his attitude to practical work, but Matt is very pro-experimental work, just purposeful experimental work. Matt challenges us to target our planning at what knowledge or skills we want our students to leave the lab with after each practical. Do we really need to practise graph-drawing this time; is the design of the results table core to the objectives of this particular investigation? It’s an interesting point of view and Matt makes a good case. Thomas and Matt are still friends, now that we have cleared up that Matt is actually a big fan of experimental work…

Matt’s Practical in Memoriam is measuring the speed of light with cheese (no, really)

Links

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Please share ideas or successes – or indeed questions – on our Facebook Page: https://fb.me/physicstp .  You can also message us via our website contact form at the.physicsteachingpodcast.com, Twitter @physicstp, email using  the address given in the podcast (if we remember) or by leaving a voice memo using WhatsApp or Telegram to the phone number in our Twitter profile, +44 7898 814716 (don’t call the number, nobody will answer, just hold down the microphone icon and speak your message or upload an mp3 or ogg). Don’t forget to tell us your name because we may use your audio in a future episode.

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James de Winter is Electric

Season 3 continues to deliver physics royalty as James de Winter joins us. James is the physics tutor on the Cambridge PGCE course and has seen generations of physics teachers through their training. Having met a fair sample I can say that all of them hold James in the sort of reverence that Luke reserved for Obi Wan.

A talk with James is always an education and this episode is no exception. There’s lots to think about in terms of reflection on your lesson: James encourages us to stay as practical as feasibly possible during these strange times. Practical work has a far more tenuous grip in schools than it should, and there are a number of reasons for this, but the Covid crisis is yet another obstacle, so please please safeguard investigation in your classroom.

So you may think that you should always have a practical investigation for every lesson.. well, no. As James points out, we need to think about our rationale, and how to tackle the obstacles and what we want students to walk away with after their experimentation.

Robin rambles on a bit about the PhET simulation, and if that appeals, we’ve posted a link below.

James makes a good case for LEDs instead of bulbs for circuit investigations – they’re more reliable, they’re cheap, they’re directional and they are more consistent than incandescent bulbs. We’re interested in hearing how you get on!

We move on to a discussion of then classic core practical “Investigating how current varies with voltage across a component”. Thomas tells us to have a working version of then circuit for the students to look at, and James urges us to give this practical a firm context. If your students haven’t got a good appreciation of voltage and charge, they won’t squeeze the most out of this investigation. James’s advice: make sure you know the narrative that you want the kids to walk away with.

A discussion of the micro and macro worlds led to a word of caution from James: we need to recognise that our comfort moving between the large and the small scale is almost certainly NOT mirrored by the students and so we should identify that as a skill that we should explicitly teach.

Oh, and James’s practical in memoriam is measuring the resistance of an 8B pencil line.

Links

John Hudson’s Radioactivity GCSE AQA – interactive independent study pdf on the TES web site.

The PhET circuit construction kit.

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Please share ideas or successes – or indeed questions – on our Facebook Page: https://fb.me/physicstp .  You can also message us via our website contact form at the.physicsteachingpodcast.com, Twitter @physicstp, email using  the address given in the podcast (if we remember) or by leaving a voice memo using WhatsApp or Telegram to the phone number in our Twitter profile, +44 7898 814716 (don’t call the number, nobody will answer, just hold down the microphone icon and speak your message or upload an mp3 or ogg). Don’t forget to tell us your name because we may use your audio in a future episode.

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First Thoughts on Covid “Secure” Teaching

Robin and Thomas reflect on a first week back under the new Covid guidelines and find time to talk through a simple required practical – timing a trolley rolling down a ramp.

It’s a strange world at the moment as we eye winter warily and a second wave threatens. It is interesting to reflect that school openings have been one of the rare success stories of the pandemic. As usual, teachers and schools have taken on the impossible mission and delivered. We know it’s a stressful time, but we did want to urge you to take a moment to refelct on how much you have achieved: your students are back in school and learning again.

This week we discuss the early days of the pandemic and how you might think about using demos instead of class practicals, and that practical work can still go ahead with thought and care. We also are making this up on the hoof, so please do contact us using the form below to share your ideas and successes.

We will catch you next week, but meantime, stay healthy and be kind to yourself. It will take us time to get used to this new reality and we are not going to work miracles… well not at first anyway…

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Please share ideas or successes – or indeed questions – on our Facebook Page: https://fb.me/physicstp .  You can also message us via our website contact form at the.physicsteachingpodcast.com, Twitter @physicstp, email using  the address given in the podcast (if we remember) or by leaving a voice memo using WhatsApp or Telegram to the phone number in our Twitter profile, +44 7898 814716 (don’t call the number, nobody will answer, just hold down the microphone icon and speak your message or upload an mp3 or ogg). Don’t forget to tell us your name because we may use your audio in a future episode.

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Let’s Brock and Roll

Thomas and Robin look forward to a new – albeit different – school year with some reflections on “the new normal” and an interview with physics-teaching Royalty.

Season 3 is here! And Thomas and Robin start by thanking you for all your feedback after last year. We got some good ideas for this year and we’re looking forward to more Ways to Teach, more on the Core Practicals and more of the guests you have told us you love!

This week we have a couple of zingers to kick off the season.

First up, Thomas’s ‘boss’ joins us (the inverted commas indicate that Thomas is a free spirit who answers to NO-ONE). Matt talks us through his departmental COVID response and pays tribute once more to the wonderfu folk at CLEAPSS who have our back once again (link below). We wish you well with this, and our first Ways to Teach will refelct on some of the early lessons learned. Drop us a line with any good ideas you have had or heard for how to work practical work around the restrictions – there’s a contact form below, or Tweet at us @physicstp

If you want to start Season 3 with a real bang, you need something a wee bit special, and we are delighted that Richard Brock (Yes, THE Richard Brock!!) agreed to come on and talk to us about physics stories. Richard in case you don’t know, has been educating physics teachers and looking at the power of narratives in hooking students (and others!) into physics. Richard has written a series of brilliantly entertaining stories about physics, and the good news is that they are all freely available from the fabulous IOP Spark site (see link below).

Having Richard on was a great way to start season 3, and with physics teachers around the world getting back to the classroom and seeing their students again, the world seems a little brighter. Have agreat year and we will see you next week.

Links

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Please share ideas or successes – or indeed questions – on our Facebook Page: https://fb.me/physicstp .  You can also message us via our website contact form at the.physicsteachingpodcast.com, Twitter @physicstp, email using  the address given in the podcast (if we remember) or by leaving a voice memo using WhatsApp or Telegram to the phone number in our Twitter profile, +44 7898 814716 (don’t call the number, nobody will answer, just hold down the microphone icon and speak your message or upload an mp3 or ogg). Don’t forget to tell us your name because we may use your audio in a future episode.

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A Couple More Nuggets

Thomas doesn’t know which week it is; thinking there is one more week of term he drags Robin to his garage to test some vacuum cannon upgrades. Thomas and Robin also look back through the podcast’s second season, and forward to a possible season 3.

A Tight Collar

Thomas has been experimenting with the collars that are used to join vacuum cannon spec pipes. After initial excitement (described in the podcast) Thomas does some further testing (described in an addendum) and finds that they don’t seal perfectly when pushed on dry and that the hole in the middle is slightly smaller than a table tenis ball (which probably doesn’t matter). The collars can be cut in to slices to make round flanges with three benefits:

  1. Greater surface area for the tape to grip
  2. The potential for “reloading” the tape off-line whilst another shot is prepared (one of the issues with the cannon is the pfaff of taping it up in the lesson
  3. Easier reloading when you forget the ball!

The slices can also be used as a mechanical support for the “gold standard” flange – if you have managed to persuade tech. to make you them.

Thank you. It’s Been… Emotional

There are so many people to thank. We would not do this without *you* dear listener. The emails we get cheer us up and keep us going. We have had so many guests; thank you to you for giving up your time and being so flexible. (Special mention here to Miss Neutrino who happily rerecorded the podcast after Thomas didn’t press the right button). Thanks to Patrick Kaplo, who has become a good friend and who we were very disappointed not to meet face to face this Spring. Finally, thanks to our families, who think we are bonkers but wave us off to our respective cupboard and garage each week.

…but most of all, thank YOU for taking time to listen and – far more importantly – for teaching physics. We are privileged to teach the engineers, physicists, geologists … of the future, and it’s a future that is a lot brighter thanks to your hard work. Have a great summer!

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Please share ideas or successes – or indeed questions – on our Facebook Page: https://fb.me/physicstp .  You can also message us via our website contact form at the.physicsteachingpodcast.com, Twitter @physicstp, email using  the address given in the podcast (if we remember) or by leaving a voice memo using WhatsApp or Telegram to the phone number in our Twitter profile, +44 7898 814716 (don’t call the number, nobody will answer, just hold down the microphone icon and speak your message or upload an mp3 or ogg). Don’t forget to tell us your name because we may use your audio in a future episode.

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Spend spend spend!

Jonathan Shaw joins us to talk over your suggestions for essential physics kit.

What will the well-dressed physics lab be wearing this year? Jonathan Shaw secured £53,000 of funding to kit out his physics department and asked Thomas and Robin to throw this over to the physics-teaching hive mind, and you did not disappoint! We had some fantastic suggestions, and some surprises.

Power packs or data loggers? An observatory or a coffee machine? Where would you invest if you had budget for kit. The consensus that money would be best spent on a teacher and / or a technician was established early, but Jonathan’s budget is specifically earmarked for physics equipment and so we went through series of suggestions.

We also ran a Twitter poll in preparation for the episode and this is what you said should be number one on Jonathan’s list.

  • Powerpacks 57%
  • multimeters 16%
  • oscilloscope 16%
  • other 12%

It’s our last podcast of the year next week, but we’ll be back with season 3 in September… and kicking off with a special physics superstar guest!

LINKS

Wolfson Foundation – the source of most of Jonathan’s grant.

Vernier Dynamics system

CASTLE electric circuits

Physics Toolbox Sensor App

PhyPhox sensor app

SciChem PSUs

Join in!

Please share ideas or successes – or indeed questions – on our Facebook Page: https://fb.me/physicstp .  You can also message us via our website contact form at the.physicsteachingpodcast.com, Twitter @physicstp, email using  the address given in the podcast (if we remember) or by leaving a voice memo using WhatsApp or Telegram to the phone number in our Twitter profile, +44 7898 814716 (don’t call the number, nobody will answer, just hold down the microphone icon and speak your message or upload an mp3 or ogg). Don’t forget to tell us your name because we may use your audio in a future episode.

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Sharing Is Caring

Dr Peter Edmonds (@edmunds_dr) joins us to talk about sharing resources, ways to spend other peoples’ money (kitting out a department) and Archimedes.

Peter is one of those special people who is a finisher. Dissatisfied with the resources available to him in his trainee year, Peter set about creating his own resources. Not only that, he shared them through his web site, sciencedoctor.school.blog. His one problem with all this #sharingiscaring? The endless requests for the answers. If you use the resources and there are no answers, then please send them to him.

From Peter’s web site: “Each of the topics contains: A booklet that consists of core notes, worksheets and exam questions (all but the waves topic have answers), Many, many freely downloadable worksheets (answers contained within the answered booklet documents) and there are also *lots* of revision resources and some maths in physics resources also.

Peter’s magnum opus is complete

Thomas says he will put a link to Peter’s site on the resources aggregator we host, resources.physicsteachingpodcast.com. Peter also suggests ways of spending Jonathan Shaw’s £50,000 on Physics equipment – his ideal would be to spend £10,000 on one big ticket item. Thomas is sceptical, Robin delighted.

Finally, Peter’s Practical in Memoriam is a beautiful way of making one of the less inspiring practicals (density) more appealing.

Links

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Please share ideas or successes – or indeed questions – on our Facebook Page: https://fb.me/physicstp .  You can also message us via our website contact form at the.physicsteachingpodcast.com, Twitter @physicstp, email using  the address given in the podcast (if we remember) or by leaving a voice memo using WhatsApp or Telegram to the phone number in our Twitter profile, +44 7898 814716 (don’t call the number, nobody will answer, just hold down the microphone icon and speak your message or upload an mp3 or ogg). Don’t forget to tell us your name because we may use your audio in a future episode.

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