S02E17: Waves for 11 Year Olds and GCSE Required Practical

Robin and Thomas busk through teaching Sound and Waves to 11-year-olds and the Ripple Tank GCSE Required Practical.

Summary

“Physics in the News” this week looked at a story that casts doubt on the idea of dark energy. It’s a good illustration of how the scientific method and peer review is used to challenge ideas and present evidence.

Thomas and Robin chat about teaching KS3 waves and how we would introduce concepts. Robin likes Thomas’s approach of using sound vibrations to introduce wave concepts. Both love slinky springs and oscilloscopes – and don’t forget there’s a whole podcast on “Ways to Teach… waves” here. See the Summary for links to the Virtual Oscilloscope and Virtual Ripple Tank.

The core practical we discuss is measuring wave speed using a ripple tank and Thomas and Robin give the following recommendations…

  • get to know your ripple tank. Time spent getting to know your individual tank’s idiosyncrasies will not be wasted. Pick your technician’s brains!
  • Go slow. Try and get the ripples as slow as you can.
  • Look to the heavens. Try and illuminate the tank from underneath to project the ripples on the ceiling if possible.
  • Use the simulation ripple tank / wave simulation (see summary) to give students the chance to develop some familiarity (albeit simulated) with waves and ripples.

Good luck rippling!

We’re also doing a “Ways to Teach… Momentum” and a “Ways to Teach… Physics GCSE Revision” episode soon so send all the tips you can think of to us using the contact form below.

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Please share ideas or successes – or indeed questions – on our Facebook Page: https://fb.me/physicstp .  You can also message us via our website contact form at the.physicsteachingpodcast.com, 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 or upload an mp3 or ogg). Don’t forget to tell us your name because we may use your audio in a future episode.

The music we use remains One legged equilibrist polka by Circus Homunculus. The music before and after James is Cantina Rag by Jackson F. Smith.

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S02E16: Taking a Trip to CERN

Robin and Thomas talk to David Cotton and Aris Dacanalis about taking a trip to CERN.

Timestamps

  • Aris @ 01:40
  • Chatting with David @ 08:20
  • David’s Practical in Memoriam @ 30:30

Summary

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Please share ideas or successes – or indeed questions – on our Facebook Page: https://fb.me/physicstp .  You can also message us via our website contact form at the.physicsteachingpodcast.com, 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 or upload an mp3 or ogg). Don’t forget to tell us your name because we may use your audio in a future episode.

The music we use remains One legged equilibrist polka by Circus Homunculus. The music before and after James is Cantina Rag by Jackson F. Smith.

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S02E15: Uses for a Vacuum Cannon and Deconstruction of Energy

Happy New Year! Thomas and Robin reflect on some questions from the Dulwich IoP Physics Conference and are joined by Patrick Kaplo to talk about uses for the Vacuum Cannon and whether teaching just two energy stores is the way forward.

Timestamps

  • New Year Resolutions @ 00:35
  • We’re going on tour! @ 03:51
  • Uses for the Vacuum Cannon @ 06:40
  • Dr Ben Still’s views on Energy @ 19:23

Summary

Happy New Year dear listener! Do you make New Year’s resolutions, then share them in the vain hope you will keep them up? Thomas asks Robin and Patrick to share theirs. Robin has been inspired by the podcast and Patrick is going to be more sharing. Thomas has set a low bar.

The exciting news of the week is that Thomas, Robin and Thomas are heading to Boston USA to run a session at the NSTA conference. Entitled “Podcasting and Professionalism – A British Twist”. We plan to run a hands-on session and not wear bowler hats… we’ll look forward to seeing you in Boston in early April. If you aren’t in America then, why not let us know your favourite physics CPD event and we’ll see if we can make it along.

Friend of the Podcast Jonathan Shaw loves his vacuum cannon but was wondering about how to use it to full-physics effect, and Patrick was more than happy to oblige. We got to five tips before we moved away from a soda-can-annihilation and in the end, we did answer Jonathan’s question.

Dr Ben Still, author of Particle Physics Brick by Brick shared an interesting insight in to Energy when talking at the Conference – that there are really only two energy stores – motion and field shape. Thomas is delighted by this and puts it to Patrick and Robin for their opinion. What do you think? Should we tell our KS3 students that there is only movement and field?

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Please share ideas or successes – or indeed questions – on our Facebook Page: https://fb.me/physicstp .  You can also message us via our website contact form at the.physicsteachingpodcast.com, 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 or upload an mp3 or ogg). Don’t forget to tell us your name because we may use your audio in a future episode.

The music we use remains One legged equilibrist polka by Circus Homunculus. The music before and after James is Cantina Rag by Jackson F. Smith.

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S02E14: Specific Heat Capacity (GCSE Required Practical)

Happy Christmas! In the last full podcast of 2019, Thomas and Robin chat about one of the core GCSE Practicals: Measuring Specific Heat Capacity. Also, stealth physics in “fun” Christmas lessons.

Timestamps

  • Bikes follow up @ 00:54
  • Stealth Physics “fun” lessons @ 02:10
  • Chatting about measuring Specific Heat Capacity @ 15:50

Summary

Thomas doesn’t like “fun” lessons, and is a bit of a Scrooge, but Robin has a great one on Christmas lights that is much deeper than you think.

A few days ago we talked through doing the Specific Heat Capacity experiment and we talk about the cognitive load, issues and tips around doing this popular and classic practical. Although his drawing skills are as unconvincing as his podcasting skills, Robin shares these diagrams to use (or preferably ‘do better’) as the basis of some low cog-load instructions. Merry Christmas!

Equipment list

Step 1 – put oil in the openings in the metal block
Step 2 – insert heater and thermometer as show
Step 3 – connect the heater to an ammeter and a power supply, then connect a voltmeter in parallel across the heater.

Step 4 – read the current and voltage, then take an initial temperature reading and record as your t = 0 seconds reading. Start the stopwatch.
Step 5 – record the temperature every 30 seconds until the temperature hits 50 celsius.

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Please share ideas or successes – or indeed questions – on our Facebook Page: https://fb.me/physicstp .  You can also message us via our website contact form at the.physicsteachingpodcast.com, 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 or upload an mp3 or ogg). Don’t forget to tell us your name because we may use your audio in a future episode.

The music we use remains One legged equilibrist polka by Circus Homunculus. The music before and after James is Cantina Rag by Jackson F. Smith.

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S02E13: Bikes – An Accessible and Versatile Context

James de Winter and Alan Denton join us to tell us the many ways in which a simple bicycle can be used to provide an accessible context for Physics. Moment, pressure, forces, sound, power and more can all be looked at through the lens of a bike.

Timestamps

  • A Fifth Fundamental Force? @ 00:47
  • Bikes for teaching physics @
    • Why use a bike? @ 05:56
    • How to draw a bike @ 06:43
    • Free Body Diagrams @
    • Forces on a bike @ 08:11
    • Free Body Diagrams @ 8:40
    • Mechanical Advantage @ 14:00
    • Pressure @ 17:18
    • Sound@ 23:10
    • All the other things you can do @ 25:00
  • Post interview chat @ 31:00
How to sketch a bike

Summary

First Thomas and Robin chew over the suggestion that there may be a fifth fundamental force of nature, or it may just be uncertainty. This leads on to the similarities with “faster than light neutrinos“. It’s a story that illustrates ‘how science works’ so a nice one to share with top sets or A-level students.

Alan and James find delight in the bike as a tool for teaching physics. Levers, pressure, friction, sound and much more can be taught using the good old bicycle! We’ve been chatting a lot about context recently and surely a bike has more resonance with kids than, say a Saturn V rocket or a car engine?

If you’re interested in the beautiful book James mentions, you can find it here: Cycling Science by Max Glaskin. If you do all your marking, Santa might put you on the ‘nice’ list and slip one in your stocking.

I’ll bet you can think of even more ways to use a bike to get ideas across (bike chain as a model of moving charge in a circuit?), so give your technician a real challenge and see if they can find storage space in their prep room for a bike.

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Don’t forget to tell us how it goes and share your tips.  Details on how to get in touch are below. Thanks for listening.

Please share ideas or successes – or indeed questions – on our Facebook Page: https://fb.me/physicstp .  You can also message us via our website contact form at the.physicsteachingpodcast.com, 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 or upload an mp3 or ogg). Don’t forget to tell us your name because we may use your audio in a future episode.

The music we use remains One legged equilibrist polka by Circus Homunculus. The music before and after James is Cantina Rag by Jackson F. Smith.

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S02E12: Underrepresentation (the elephant in the room)

Moses Rifkin came to the attention of Fox news for his short course on underrepresentation in Physics and Science and this led to the The Underrepresentation Curriculum Project. He tells us his story.

Timestamps

  • The Underrepresentation Curriculum with Moses Rifkin @ 00:53
  • Moses’ Practical in Memoriam – eggs from the sky! @ 31:50

Summary

Moses Rifkin came to the attention of Fox News for his short course on underrepresentation in Physics and Science (video below), but this has led to the growth and promotion of The Underrepresentation Curriculum Project (www.underrep.com). Thomas, Robin and Patrick agree that as white middle aged men we have a responsibility to challenge underrepresentation wherever we see it.

Moses also shares his practical in memoriam – eggs from the sky! He shared two videos with us of this spectacular activity!

Not to be left out, Patrick also shared a video of his trebuchet competition:

Join in!

Don’t forget to tell us how it goes and share your tips.  Details on how to get in touch are below. Thanks for listening.

Please share ideas or successes – or indeed questions – on our Facebook Page: https://fb.me/physicstp .  You can also message us via our website contact form at the.physicsteachingpodcast.com, 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 or upload an mp3 or ogg). Don’t forget to tell us your name because we may use your audio in a future episode.

The music we use remains One legged equilibrist polka by Circus Homunculus. The music before and after James is Cantina Rag by Jackson F. Smith.

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S02E11: Birdsong – Connecting Physics with the Real World

Friend (now Hero, surely?) of the Podcast James de Winter talks birdsong and uses it as an example of how to connect physics with the real world in more imaginative ways.

We all know how it goes, you teach newton 3, you talk about a rocket, you teach momentum you talk about trucks and cars colliding. Vectors? Aeroplanes… pressure? stilettos and snowshoes… friction? car tyres. It’s not that these examples don’t give context; they do! And mightily useful it is too, but James challenges us to find something a bit different. Go outside our comfort zone and bring in an unfamiliar example. James makes the case for birdsong when teaching frequency and he’ll be back in a couple of weeks to talk about an everyday object that is an almost limitless source of physics context that every child can relate to. Spoiler alert: there’s probably one rusting in your shed.

James makes a great case. Variety in examples and contexts broadens the appeal of physics and students’ idea of the relevance of this wonderful subject. Physics is so ubiquitous that it is a bit odd that students leave school doubting its relevance. So follow James’ tips and advice and reverse engineer something new and different into your context. Cooling rate of a dead cow, anyone?

S02E11 Timestamps

  • Physics in the News: 3D Display with a polystyrene bead @ 01:15
  • James de Winter @ 03:36
  • Ogden Trust @ 19:20
  • Finding an interesting context @ 20:45
  • Thomas has a cover lesson and uses Quidditch as the context with the expected result @ 24:14
  • Robin suggests ideas for friction @ 26:00
  • Thomas is pleased with the Monkey Hunter at Open Evening @ 28:00
  • Favourite Resources – The Nuffield Red Books @ 29:46

Summary

James has wanted to talk about birdsong for a while but surprises Thomas and Robin with what he actually does with it – he teaches graphs as part of a way to make the physics meet the real world. If you fancy a lesser spotted grebe in your lab, then James has lesson plans and resources available at http://www.physicsandbirdsong.com/ – just a beautiful set of resources. And if that has got you in the mood for some bucolic physics, how about www.naturephysics.co.uk for some convection with mushrooms, or bees that ‘see’ electric fields?

James is a font of ideas and particularly likes perusing https://hypertextbook.com/facts/ for things he could use. Another of his hats is the Ogden Trust, and Robin reassures Thomas that getting involved is well worth it. Robin then helps Thomas with some real World ideas for contexts that will be more accessible for the students. Robin imagines a fruit machine that gives three words that someone has to use in the lesson (and Thomas duly obliged).

Nuffield Red books:

Nuffield Physics has loads of resources for download, but here are the two Thomas uses for A Level, they are based on the 1980s version of the course. (Selected purely because that is the A Level he first taught in 1993).

Thomas also found his ancient TES Resources:

Stories from Physics – Richard Brock

  1. Weird units and wonderful measures
  2. Forces and Motion

Join in!

Don’t forget to tell us how it goes and share your tips.  Details on how to get in touch are below. Thanks for listening.

Please share ideas or successes – or indeed questions – on our Facebook Page: https://fb.me/physicstp .  You can also message us via our website contact form at the.physicsteachingpodcast.com, 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 or upload an mp3 or ogg). Don’t forget to tell us your name because we may use your audio in a future episode.

The music we use remains One legged equilibrist polka by Circus Homunculus. The music before and after James is Cantina Rag by Jackson F. Smith.

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S02E10 CLEAPSS, The Physics Teacher’s Best Friend (and a few Loose Ends)

We have a final missive from Charlie, the response to WTT Ionising Radiation and an Interview with Samir from CLEAPSS.

S02E10 Timestamps

  • Thank you for the jam, Stuart Farmer @ 00:49
  • Update from Charlie @ 01:15
  • We love Chemistry and we have imposter Syndrome @ 5:03
  • Follow up to Ways to teach… Ionising Radiation @ 07:54
  • Freebie from Lewis Matheson of A-Level and GCSE Physics online @13:38
  • CLEAPSS @ 15:30
  • Visiting CERN – please send in ideas @ 29:50

Summary

We have been a bit remiss n keeping up to date with things over the last couple of episodes, so we make amends by catching up with Charlie, who has had some success with his pupils taking physics from the classroom to the rugby pitch. Next we catch up on the Ways to teach… Ionising Radiation episode: we missed a couple of contributions and had an interesting follow up email from Friend of the Podcast, John Hamilton grumbling about gamma.

Friend of the podcast, Lewis Matheson of alevelphysicsonline.com has an offer for Physics Teachers – unlimited access to his new gcsephysicsonline.com until December 20th Lewis said in his email to us:

My GCSE Physics website is getting there – 329 videos on the site and many more planned. If listeners want to have a look themselves then I’ll leave a free login until December 20th: username </strong> and the password tptp . If they’d like to buy it for their school then should just email me at <strong>lewis@gcsephysicsonline.com</strong> and I’ll sort that out for them (it’s not being widely advertised on the website at this time).

Lewis Matheson

Royal Society of Chemistry Teach Chemistry website gets a shout out, as does the Gatsby research and advice on practical work. before we meet Samir from CLEAPSS. Finally we ask for your tips on trips to CERN.

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Don’t forget to tell us how it goes and share your tips.  Details on how to get in touch are below. Thanks for listening.

Please share ideas or successes – or indeed questions – on our Facebook Page: https://fb.me/physicstp .  You can also message us via our website contact form at the.physicsteachingpodcast.com, 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 or upload an mp3 or ogg). Don’t forget to tell us your name because we may use your audio in a future episode.

The music we use remains One legged equilibrist polka by Circus Homunculus. The music in the montage is Cantina Rag by Jackson F. Smith.

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S02E09 Force or False (Forces @ Primary School)

Ex -colleague and ex-colleague Andy Harrison is writing a scheme of work for Primary Science and asks Thomas and Robin to help him with his understanding of forces.

S02E09 Timestamps

  • What’s a force? @ 02:40
  • Gravity @ 04:20
  • Electrostatics @ 08:20
  • Reaction/Support force @ 17:30
  • Energy @ 21:12

Summary

Ex-colleague Andy Harrison reached out to Robin last week for some help. Andy, a Biologist, is no longer in the classroom but working as an Outreach Officer for a medical research organisation. Andy has been working with Primary Schools and is working on a scheme of work around Forces. Sensing an opportunity for a podcast Robin and Thomas hooked up the microphones and off we went.

Andy is working on a task that might be called “Force or False” where the pupils have to state whether something is a force or not. Amongst other questions, we talked about Is Fire a force? Is Pressure a Force? Is Gravity a Force? We also appealed for some ideas that could be used for practicals in primary science. You know the kind of thing, minimal specialist equipment required but allow primary students to practise their practical skills (e.g. modelling; conducting a fair test etc.).

Alom Shaha’s fine book gets another mention and can be found here. If you are looking to liven up your science lessons in primary school, this is a great source of ideas that won’t break the bank.

N.B. We haven’t forgotten Charlie, we’ve just forgotten to include his latest update. It will be in the next episode.

Join in!

Don’t forget to tell us how it goes and share your tips.  Details on how to get in touch are below. Thanks for listening.

Please share ideas or successes – or indeed questions – on our Facebook Page: https://fb.me/physicstp .  You can also message us via our website contact form at the.physicsteachingpodcast.com, 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 or upload an mp3 or ogg). Don’t forget to tell us your name because we may use your audio in a future episode.

The music we use remains One legged equilibrist polka by Circus Homunculus. The music in the montage is Cantina Rag by Jackson F. Smith.

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S02E08 – Ways to teach… Ionising radiation

Listeners have been more than generous with some tips for ionising radiation and how to teach it. Thomas, Robin and Patrick introduce some great ideas and discuss how to put IR in context.

Wisdom and wit

Patrick, Thomas and Robin get together to tackle ways to teach Ionising Radiation with context proving to be the most common tip.

Friend of the podcast, Dan Toomey shares his love of the radioactive sources and how to build a radiation detector, while Sarah Nunn and Mary Wild both weigh in with some tips on the best ways to run class demos and to help students remember the relative properties of alpha, beta and gamma. Everyone loves a story!

Patrick, it turns out used to have his own nuclear reactor that the US government gave him (none of this is quite true, but in Thomas’ and Robin’s heads it always will be!) and he tells us some of the real-life ways in which he avoided being toasted – we’re so glad he did.

Horror stories appeal to the kids too, so Thomas shared this genuinely terrifying clip of Russian ‘safety’ measures, whilst Veritasium gets a mention for the fantastic video on the world’s most radioactive places.

XKCD.com/radiation is another great resource for getting kids thinking about how common and everyday radiation really is. The circumstances surrounding the Goiânia accident are as bizarre as they are terrifying.

For careers advice, tell your students about Medical physics careers and many more. Just one of the jobs you can do if you study ionising radaition.

Thanks to Dan, Mary, Sarah, Patrick and to you for listening!

HAVE A GREAT HALF TERM!!

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Please share ideas or successes – or indeed questions – on our Facebook Page: https://fb.me/physicstp .  You can also message us via our website contact form at the.physicsteachingpodcast.com, 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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