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1. Balloons!

Thomas and Robin sincerely hope you enjoyed the first episode of the physics teaching podcast, and that you are enthused to do some more practical work in your classroom.  The physics teaching podcast is all about celebrating the professionalism of teachers of physics. We know that many of you don’t have the professional physics networks enjoyed by other subjects – either because you are the only physic teacher in your school, or you are a teacher of another subject who is stepping up to teach physics in the absence of a specialist.  Either way, your professional identity as a physics teacher is not properly celebrated, so be proud of the physics you teach by engaging with the podcast, posting on our Facebook page or Tweeting. Details are below. We are keen to hear from you if you would like to be a part of physics teaching podcast history and be among our first guests. Tell us a practical you love and why, and we will be in touch.

Practical work is such a central aspect of physics teaching, and yet it is under threat from shrinking budgets, ballooning workload and a lack of confidence or training in physics experimental techniques.  The wonderful Gatsby foundation recently produced a report on the importance of practical work in science.

In this episode:

  • Thomas introduced himself and his reasons for wanting to podcast;
  • Jessica Rowson from the IoP tells us how she loves using a balloon to explore ideas in physics;
    • By using water in the balloon to stop it popping over a candle and exploring the idea of heat sinks and specific heat capacity
    • By shining a laser on a black/white balloon and explaining why the black one pops
    • By challenging student misconceptions about how a rocket takes off
  • Robin tests Thomas on Newton’s third law;
  • Thomas reminisces about his first ever physics experiment.

We know that in schools generally and physics departments specifically there is real concern over the budgets available, and so it was great to hear from Jessica about a series of physics principles that you can show just using a balloon!  You often don’t need a lot of money to ‘do physics’ and something Robin mentioned was the work of Joe Brock in Africa where he showed how practical physics didn’t necessarily need expensive kit. Heis work is described in a beautifully detailed pdf.  Have a chat with your technician about this – I’ll bet that between you, you’ll find something there you can use.

It would be great if you could share ideas or successes on our Facebook Page – https://fb.me/physicstp – it won’t take a minute to sign up.  Alternatively, you can message us via our website https://the.physicsteachingpodcast.com, Twitter @physicstp, by email using the form below (or the address given in the podcast) or by leaving a voice memo using WhatsApp or Telegram to the phone number in our Twitter profile (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 may use your audio in a future episode.

The music in this episode is One legged equilibrist polka by Circus Homunculus.

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Tick-Tock

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”.

Do contact us if you would like to contribute:

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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.

If you are interested in getting involved please contact us:

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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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Categories

0. Vacuum Pump & Pressure

Catastrophic Spacesuit Failure

In our first ever effort at making some content, Thomas talks about how he entertained parents at Open Evening using a vacuum pump, bell jar, tin foil, marshmallows and Tunnocks Tea Cakes.

The Astronaut's head explodes