13. Lasers, Labs and a Large(r) hadron collider

Thomas and Robin had such fun talking to Patrick Kaplo (Episode 11) from Windham, New Hampshire that we talked to him again about his Challenge Labs. These are graded practicals where there is a one-shot event at the end of the practical that gives you your final grade. You can listen to how this works in an optics lab… err… practical in this episode or rewind to episode 11 for the sliced pendulum experiment.

Time Stamps

  • CERN Plans @ 00:20
  • Thomas uses Podcast ideas in his lesson @ @ 2:57
  • Challenge Practicals @ 6:48
  • Formative Feedback @ 9:53
  • Refractive Index based Challenge Lab @ 11:15
  • Post interview chat 19:40


Size isn’t everything, but no-one told CERN: they’ve announced designs for the next generation collider. Thomas and Robin are looking forward to find out just a little bit more about the Big Bang and the nature of matter. Thomas celebrated an inaugural ‘podcast day’ when in the same day he used the electric motors, mystery tubes and Perimeter Institute resources ( ‘Bubble Chamber Detective’) from previous episodes.

Friend of the Podcast Patrick Kaplow returns to be embarrassed by Robin’s hero-worship. Never has anyone been audibly grateful for thousands of miles of ocean. Patrick tells us about “Challenge Labs”, where there is a one shot answer that gives you your grade. He goes on to describe a simple refraction/reflection experiment to test students’ understanding where the grade is determined by a one shot attempt at predicting a laser beam’s path through a prism.

A brief caution: don’t forget to check with CLEAPSS (or your local Health and Safety body) that any Laser pens or cheap lasers are safe to use.

Please share ideas or successes on our Facebook Page – .  You can also message us via our website contact form at, 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). Don’t forget to tell us your name because we may use your audio in a future episode. Please do leave a voice memo: Thomas thinks nobody loves him.

The music we use remains One legged equilibrist polka by Circus Homunculus.

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