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.

Timestamps

  • 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

Summary

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!

Join in!

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.

The music we use remains One legged equilibrist polka by Circus Homunculus.

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13. Lasers, Labs and a Large(r) hadron collider

Thomas and Robin had such fun talking to Patrick Kaplo (Episode 11) from Windham, New Hampshire that we talked to him again about his Challenge Labs. These are graded practicals where there is a one-shot event at the end of the practical that gives you your final grade. You can listen to how this works in an optics lab… err… practical in this episode or rewind to episode 11 for the sliced pendulum experiment.

Time Stamps

  • CERN Plans @ 00:20
  • Thomas uses Podcast ideas in his lesson @ @ 2:57
  • Challenge Practicals @ 6:48
  • Formative Feedback @ 9:53
  • Refractive Index based Challenge Lab @ 11:15
  • Post interview chat 19:40

Summary

Size isn’t everything, but no-one told CERN: they’ve announced designs for the next generation collider. Thomas and Robin are looking forward to find out just a little bit more about the Big Bang and the nature of matter. Thomas celebrated an inaugural ‘podcast day’ when in the same day he used the electric motors, mystery tubes and Perimeter Institute resources ( ‘Bubble Chamber Detective’) from previous episodes.

Friend of the Podcast Patrick Kaplow returns to be embarrassed by Robin’s hero-worship. Never has anyone been audibly grateful for thousands of miles of ocean. Patrick tells us about “Challenge Labs”, where there is a one shot answer that gives you your grade. He goes on to describe a simple refraction/reflection experiment to test students’ understanding where the grade is determined by a one shot attempt at predicting a laser beam’s path through a prism.

A brief caution: don’t forget to check with CLEAPSS (or your local Health and Safety body) that any Laser pens or cheap lasers are safe to use.

Please share ideas or successes 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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