Connect Physics

SEPnet are launching a series of innovative and interactive workshops that add context to the physics of the KS3 science curriculum. 

They deliver the following messages to students:

  •  Anyone can do physics.
  • Physics is exciting, relevant & important; it goes beyond the classroom.
  • Studying physics further broadens career possibilities.

One: What Connects to Physics

The aim of this workshop is to introduce students to the variety of topics that are part of the study of Physics and encourage students to discover the links between these topics.

Each workshop will feature our Physics Connecting Game based on the KS3 science curriculum, followed by a student led Connection Challenge. Here the class challenges the presenter to connect two everyday objects / phenomena through physics. Along the way the trained presenters will bring in eye-catching simple demonstrations and the latest in physics research. Each run of the workshop will be different as the students themselves control the direction.

Students will get a taste of what physics is, how it is relevant to them and how much is still not known.

Notes: Some of the demonstrations may feature flashing lights and loud noises so do inform the presenter of any accessibility needs in your classes so they can adapt demonstrations. Do let them know if there is a particular aspect of Physics you would to see included.

Two: What careers can a physics degree lead to?
The most common answer is ‘scientist’. The aim of this workshop is to show that scientist is just one option out of a multitude of interesting, satisfying possible careers.

This workshop is an innovative, interactive and competitive way of introducing careers to the classroom. The class is divided into six groups, each taking the role of a recruitment agencies. Each agency is given a set of different physics graduates as their clients. Throughout the workshop the agencies will compete against each other to ensure their clients gets the job.

This workshops introduces the idea of transferable skills you develop through studying physics (and other STEM subjects). Students do get competitive and leave being more aware of how finding a job works, and what skills studying physics develops.

Notes: This workshop works best in a standard classroom rather than the lab as there are no demonstrations or hands-on experiments. However, the workshop is by no means quiet. We do encourage the teachers to determine the groups beforehand, balancing out the personalities within the classroom.

Three: The scientific method.
Unlike many school practicals, the workshop is designed so that the students should not know the answer in advance or be able to solve the problem easily by guesswork.

Can your students solve the mystery tubes? Pairs of students are given a mystery tube and told to have a play and experiment with the ropes coming out of the tube and asked to think what’s inside the tube. Through drawing plans of what’s inside, and reviewing each other’s plan the concept of peer review is introduced. At the end of the workshops the students are asked to make models of what they think is inside the mystery tube.

In the end the students are told they have been doing science by following the scientific method. This shows them they can do science as it involves following a process.

All three workshops are based on latest results from the ASPIRES research. By delivering the above messages the workshops aim to maintain and raise the science capital of our target students. For those with medium science capital, these workshops should encourage them to view STEM as a pathway to a potential career, for those with high science capital, they will be encouraged to think specifically about physics.

The workshops have been developed by Science Theatre on behalf of SEPnet.

Format of the workshops
Each workshop fits into a 45 to 60 minute science lessons. If you lessons are slightly shorter or longer, please let us know beforehand so the workshops can be altered.

Ideally the workshops would be delivered one a term, across the year, to the same students, with the first one delivered after the half-term break in the autumn term. However we understand timetabling is never easy, so the first one can be pushed back so instead two workshops are delivered in the spring or summer terms.

Each workshop will be delivered by the same SEPnet Outreach Officers throughout the year, or one of their experienced and fully trained Undergraduate Ambassadors.

Testing and Evaluation
The workshops and their content have been tested in some of our SEPnet partner schools. We are now looking to measure what impact delivering the three workshops will have in many different types of schools across the South East.  Each time a workshops is delivered there will be a short evaluation form for students and teachers to fill, with the possibility of focus groups at the start and end of the year. There will be an external evaluation running throughout the 2017/18 school year.

How can you help?
As the final phase of testing, SEPnet is looking to launch these workshops in 27 schools across the SE of England.  If you are interested in being part of this launch please do get in touch with your local Outreach Officer, or Dr Dominic Galliano, the Director of Outreach & Public Engagement at SEPnet, by the end of September.