Thinking back to when I started

Talking to Imogen for the new podcast has made me think back to when I started. I remember very well how I was only a few years older than the kids I was teaching, and my knowledge was only marginally ahead of theirs. I have wondered over the years whether my knowledge has moved on much beyond A Level. I am certainly much more experienced than the kids are and can get to a right answer faster than them, but not being a Physics graduate still leaves me feeling exposed at times.

There are so many things you need to be a successful teacher over and above a Physics degree that I don’t fret too much. Loving the subject and still finding wonder in it (whilst teaching essentially the same content each year) goes a long way. 

The paper was pulled along steadily under a swinging sand-timer – SHM

“Air Is Heavy”

After mentioning my memories of my first physics experiment I decided to look for that exercise book. I turned the house upside down a couple of times looking for the battered little grey blotter before my wife remembered a plastic bag of old school books in the roof. I had strong memories of putting the book away in a very safe place so was somewhat sceptical. Of course she was correct and the book was orange.

The write up of “Air is Heavy” makes me happy. A simple experiment that shows something fundamental that has a short write-up, a correct conclusion, and is not marked!

As for my conclusions in the first experiment, “Air Is Every where”, I am not too sure about the my conclusions! There are several more experiments (“Gas Cannon”, “Warm air expands”, “Light”, “Bottle Volcano”) in there, and some terrible and wrong ideas about why a couple of them worked. Maybe we will look at that in a future podcast.

This was done right at the end of my time in Primary School, so I had just turned 11 years old.


This is corrected for grammar and spelling but not physics!

Air Is Everywhere

Air is everywhere. It fills every gap and crack in the world.  There is a layer of air all around the Earth which holds everything down. You can only feel air with the wind or breathing.
We put an upside-down jar in the water and the air started pushing up because it was under water. No water got in to the jar.

Air is Heavy

We hung two balloons up and they balanced each other.

We popped one and the yellow one was pulled up.

This shows that air weighs something.


So, the first podcast will go live at 5:00am tomorrow. Arbitrary timing I know, but it gives us time to panic in the night and pull the plug on this crazy idea.

I was teaching this morning and tried a couple of the experiments we talked about because I could almost, kinda, sorta, squeeze them in to what I was teaching (OK, I couldn’t but one *did* tie in to some Thermal physics I was covering last week). One worked well, the other was a complete fail. I have posted on Facebook for help and advice.

This afternoon I have been trying to get the levels right. I played the final podcast in my car and it nearly blew the windows out. I have been learning about compressing and limiting this afternoon and am optimistic it will sound better. For those who are in the know, “my LUFS is neg 18.8”.

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Steep learning curve

Wow. My respect for podcasters grows daily. We have done much testing in the last week or so and found that our backup solution for interview (Skype) could give very high quality sound when it was required. We had to use Skype with our chosen interviewee for the first podcast and the quality of the audio is pretty awful. I have cleaned it up as best I can but it is what it is.

I am also in awe of podcasters and broadcasters who sound so erudite all the time. One would imagine we (I!) will get better with time, but in post production I spent a fair bit of time removing our ‘ums’ and ‘ers’ to make it shorter and make it flow better.

We are inching (millimetreing?) towards the first release, which will be on Thursday. Please be gentle when it comes.

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Early Days

Robin and I have been talking about doing a podcast for a while, but now we appear to have committed. We are on a terribly steep learning curve and the last two weeks have involved a lot of web site setup, equipment setup, practise interviews and pondering what we are trying to produce, why and who for?

If we get just two listeners (I am pretty sure my mum will tune in), for how long will we continue?  What does success look like when the target audience is a small section (Science Teachers) of a small section (Teachers) of the Podcast Listeners in the Country (World?)?  We think that we will try to produce weekly and commit to an academic year’s worth (39) but will release podcasts in term time only.

We are hoping to release our first real podcast next week. 😬

We are currently recording a few interviews, something that we think will be the foundation of our output. If you are interested in sharing your favourite physics experiment and your joy in teaching it please get in touch with us through the form below:

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