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


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: .  You can also message us via our website contact form at, 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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8. Venn Hats, Meows and a Mysterious Tube

Mr Benjie

As David Bowie once mused “Is there seismic activity on Mars?” ( I think that’s what he said…), and who are we to argue?  So we kicked off discussing NASA Mars Insight Lander and then Robin confessed to group about his tendency to get on a self-righteous soapbox (see episode 7!).  Luckily this week’s chat was the perfect antidote to stress as he chatted to Carole Kenrick: primary teacher, secondary teacher,  artist and PhD student, she wears many metaphorical hats … and has a podcasting cat called Mr Benjie.

Carole tells us about two of the practicals she likes the most: decay-dice and mystery tubes. Decay dice take the simplicity of rolling one die, developing it in to a beautiful mathematical model. She uses mystery tubes from the Berkley Understanding Science web site and they kindly provide instructions to make them. Thomas couldn’t resist making a mystery tube of his own and “Thomas from the future” appears to tell how he got on.

Thomas' early prototype
Thomas’ early prototype

Carole also introduces us to “Physics Fairy” (no, really, check it out!) and explained how it came into non-existence from working with Force Goggles from the Supporting Physics Teaching web site.

New Competition – Closes 13th December

Help us with our planned “Electricity” episode by giving us your top tips… and pitfalls. Either tweet us with the hash tag #physicstpelectricity or comment in the thread on our Facebook page. Thomas and Robin will choose a winner on the 13th of December and will send you a signed copy of Ben Rogers’ wonderful book The Big Ideas in Physics and How to Teach Them.

It remains an enthralling and educational adventure making this podcast for you.  We love hearing from you and you are a very big part of the adventure; guide us, tell us what you want to hear about. It really is your podcast, so please get in touch: teachers of physics are our very favourite superheroes!

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