Recent Posts

  • Ways to Teach… Space

    Space is a challenging subject to teach, so a good subject for the first “Ways to Teach…” of this academic year. Thomas and Robin start with a look at some physics in the news. The proton is smaller than we thought! About 5% smaller which will make it even harder to find one if you lose it, but let’s not be negative… In other news, a new wonder-polymer promises transparency, strength and lightness all in one. Will it be as successful as graphene (which Robin made the mistake of questioning in front of an engineer). And so to space. If there’s one message (and thanks to Dr David Boyce and others for this advice) try to use models, demos and activity to show what’s going on. It’s tempting to think you can’t do anything other than PowerPoint and YouTube for this topic, but whilst the odd video of cosmic phenomena can be great, you can make this subject live in the classroom. So whether it’s “phases of the egg” or redshift on a balloon, try to get students involved in the subject. Living orreries, using beachballs to represent the sun and modelling the solar system’s scale with a beachball and a pea – all this and more is in our first “Ways to Teach…” of 2022.

  • Girls in to Physics II

    Thomas and Robin return after an extended break to talk A-level expectations, girls in physics and strategies for inclusion.

  • Big Classes, Small Classes and Thank Yous

    New year, new groups and tips to get underway. All this and an interview with the force of nature that is Professor Averil MacDonald. It can only be a brand new season of TPTP.

  • Season 3 Finale!

    Well, we made it. What. A. Year. Robin and Thomas hook up with Patrick Kaplo to hear about how he has been getting on in the North Eastern USA and, as usual, get somewhat distracted. Thomas nobly tries to steer the whimsical chat towards physics teaching with limited success. Patrick had to cancel his extraordinary trebuchet competition because of the pandemic (see video below) and has also been suffering under incredible heat. This leads to him crushing another of Thomas' stereotypes about the USA and for Thomas to explain how he used his Physics teaching knowledge to save some money by investing in an inverter. Thomas thanks David Cotton (@newmanphysics on twitter) for a gift he sent of a vintage textbook of practicals and a tiny triple LED light demonstrator. We drift in to chatting about how relevant our Physics specs are to everyday life. Thomas asserts that he only used his knowledge of a vernier scale but Patrick quicly points out all the other ways. Robin is adamant (look away now CLEAPPS) that a basic knowledge of electricity is enough to do DIY electricity*. We then talk about the difficult year and Thomas reflects on his failures with Year 7 - making the same mistakes he made in his first years of teaching. We talk about what we are going to take forward from the pandemic and really hope that CPD will be better! No more drawing a "perfect teacher" or "perfect student"... Patrick and Robin both have a new start next year and Thomas is expecting a huge uptick in students at A-Level. We talk through the changes we'll face. If you teach a huge class of A-Level students PLEASE get in touch and come on the podcast to tell us your strategies. Patrick has itchy feet and wants to avoid James de Winter's "velvet lined rut". Finally some thank yous. Thank you to everyone who has listened, we couldn't do it without your support and kind words. Thank you to all the guests; so many wonderful people who have freely given their time. Thank you to Robin for being the brains of the operation, bringing some credibility and always doing the show notes (and nearly always on time). This is my least favourite task but I have muddled through ~ Thomas +And thank you Thomas for all the heavy lifting ~ Robin

  • We ❤️ the Vernier Scale

    Thomas has received a shiny new Travelling Microscope with a 0.01 mm precision vernier scale. There is only one thing he wants to talk about. First Thomas talks briefly avbout his 205 mile (329km) ride for Education Support (the only UK charity dedicated to the mental health and wellbeing of education staff in schools, colleges and universities). He's raised over £1,300 so far, and the donation page is still open. We then thank Tim Browett for getting in touch. Tim is going to be our guest for Ways to teach... Space, so if you have any ideas please share them with us in the usual ways (@physicstp on twitter and a contact form on the web site). Then on to the vernier scale, which was invented in 1631 by Pierre Vernier and is a simple way of taking high precision measurements. Thomas describes how he introduces it in class by making a large 1 cm scale vernier that can measure mm. This was the way Thomas taught himself to use it when he was doing A-Level and he thinks nothing beats the experience of working it out with a large scale where you can see things happening in front of you.

  • (Why) We Love Physics (Teaching)

    100 official episodes! Who would have expected it? We hook up on a beautiful day in Essex to talk about why we love Physics and go off on a series of tangents.

  • Bad Movies for Good Lessons

    The aim is to talk through ones people suggest that are actually usable in lessons. As usual we get excited and make a few mistakes. Thomas is pretty sure that aeroplanes are made of aluminium, not steel and there were a few mentioned (Ant Man, Hulk) that we forgot to cover.

  • Techognition

    Thomas and Robin are joined by Paul Cook, senior lead technician at Ark Burlington Danes Academy and lead technician for the Ark Academy network. Paul gives us his top tips on how to get the most out of your relationship with your technician.

  • The Joy of Simple Things (Colour and Light)

    A short chat about the joy of teaching classic ideas with simple props like light boxes, mirrors and lenses. Now we’d better get back to that CAG marking. Links Colour […]

  • TAG, Mass and Weight

    Thomas and Robin discuss a few strategies you might use to help you assess your exam groups in physics, as well as grappling with pervasive mass-weight confusion.