21. The Rev

Robin and Thomas gush somewhat when chatting to ex-colleague The Reverend Tim Hardingham, Physics Teacher and ordained minister who qualified as a teacher in 1972.


  • Introducing “The Rev” @ 00:30
  • Nuffield @ 02:05
  • Tim’s advice to non-specialists @ 03:40
  • Tim’s favourite practical? @ 05:18
  • Thomas and Robin reminisce about working with Tim @ 07:32
  • Modelling SHM @ 08:20
  • Tim on teaching with modelling @ 12:12
  • Patrick Kaplo Challenge Lab (Crash Point) @ 14:17
  • The World needs physicists @ 21:00


A bugbear of mine is the recurrent attempt to somehow set science up in opposition to the arts or humanities.  I have met countless cultured scientists with deep interest in the aesthetic , in history, in the human condition at its broadest, and so I start this week’s notes with a parallel to one of the classic works of the modern age: Wayne’s World.  For when Thomas and I met this week’s guest, it was redolent of the eponymous hero and his sidekick, Garth falling to their knees before Alice Cooper, crying “We’re not worthy” in tremoring falsetto. 

“The Rev” as Tim Hardingham is affectionately known is a true physics teaching behemoth.  He is a wealth of practical knowledge and is the most generous gracious individual you could meet.  We were both delighted to spend time with Tim talking about teaching physics, the Nuffield Physics days when the curriculum was led by subject, not assessment considerations and the sheer joy of teaching physics which as regular listeners will know is the lifeblood of the podcast.

Tim’s practical in memoriam was – of course- a belter.  Tim loves electromagnetism and his passion bubbles through as he talks about a lovely piece of physics – easy to demonstrate but a pig to explain – connecting a coil, mounted on a pair of iron C-cores, in series with a battery and bulb. ‘Break’ the C-cores and blow the bulb! … Now explain. 

Thomas and Robin shared their favourite Hardingham moments and there is a spreadsheet available with his SHM instructions (and also starting spreadsheet for modelling SHM) , but perhaps the most uniquely physics element of Tim’s teaching is his delight in challenging students to explain complex concepts.  Grasping and explaining complexity is at the heart of physics and far from seeing it as a drawback, Tim makes it central to his teaching.  Try channelling your inner Rev and hold out on giving students the answer.  The trick is to do this with Tim’s twinkle and affection for the students. 

Tim also responds to a new Challenge Lab from Patrick Kaplo ; “Crash Point” where a car steadily climbing an inclined plane triggers the release of a dynamics trolley. Can the students predict where they will collide?

Tim’s always been an advocate for the subject and Thomas and I were both privileged to work with him.  He could do a daily podcast on physics teaching and never run out of material.  If you fancy being a bit more ‘Rev’, revive a Nuffield practical from one of the Nuffield “Red” books Thomas mentioned (Book 1 and Book 2)..  Have fun and don’t tell ‘em the answer!

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