A level physics practical – a Physics Partners video

As of September 2015, practical work in A-Level Physics is no longer assessed through examination – but it’s still a core part of the curriculum. We’ve been keeping a close eye on the support and resources available to teachers, and we think there’s a gap. To start filling it, we teamed up with physics teacher Alom Shaha to produce a pilot for what we hope will be a series of films. Building on the approach of Alom’s previous films about physics demonstrations, this video takes one of the required practicals and explores several approaches to it, assessing their respective strengths and discussing how you might approach the work with your students.

We’re proud of the film and we hope teachers find it useful.

Your colleagues teaching mathematics may well be using “Geogebra”. It’s a powerful geometry based mathematical modelling software. You will be able to find some links to video that I have made to explain equations of motion using Geogebra.

It is easy to set up useful animations in any element of physics you want to teach.
Pictures can be incorporated and animated; for example you could show a mass on a spring vibrating, the animation images controlled by Newton’s laws implemented in the software. You can incorporate lab data into a built in spreadsheet in Geogebra, for analysis and subsequent animation.

The Geogebra files you create have control features, called sliders or input boxes. You can design your animation so pupils can interact with it, asking and answering questions about what the graphs, or images are doing on the screen as control settings are altered. I like to use them also as part of the teaching process. My favourite use of this software involves the pupils making screen captures while they interact with the Geogebra animations I supply them with. There are lots of free screen capture programmes but I like to use the one produced by Techsmith, called capture, which is available as a free download. The pupils produce a 3minute explanation of some physics captured in the animation. I can see and hear them think as they work with the Geogebra file. This provides me with useful insight into their understanding of key concepts, what misconceptions are prevalent and what I need to do as their teacher to help them.

Steve Hearn, Charterhouse School