Black Boxes and Beginnings

With Robin away hiking in the Canadian Rockies, Thomas and Patrick hook up to chat about the coming academic year. They share their thoughts on the first lesson (of A Level/AP). Robin contributes his thoughts on the coming year via an audio diary.


  • Where is Robin? @ 00:13
  • Thomas apologises to Moses Rifkin @ 01:12
  • Going back to school and the UK/USA similarities and differences @ 02:02
  • First lessons @ 02:16
    • Thomas and two sig figs @ 06:32
    • Patrick and uncertainty @ 08:48
    • Patrick’s black box @ 10:30
  • What are you teaching first @ 16:07
  • Practical work and getting through the content @ 17:25
  • How were your results (and do they matter)? @ 18:58
  • Robin’s message in a wav file @ 22:45
  • Where did you go for your Summer holiday? @ 28:40


Robin is hiking in the Canadian Rockies so Patrick and Thomas hook up to talk about their thoughts for the year ahead. Patrick shares his Black Box lesson, a very similar concept to use of the Mystery Tube from Episode 8. Thomas shares how he introduces 2 sig figs to his new A Level students (getting them to measure 13m diagonally through a tree) which leads to Patrick’s take on uncertainty and systematic/systemic error. The two then chat about covering content, and what matters most in how you influence the students at the end of the year. After the recording was made, Robin managed to fire a wav file across the Pond in which he talks about his hopes for the year ahead as he returns to full-time teaching.

Join in!

Please share ideas or successes – or indeed questions – 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), you could even email us an autio file if you are feeling really keen.


The music is used under the Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 International License