Physics

Physics is all around us and an integral part of everyday life and human progress, from the vey mechanisms of motion and particle structure through to energy use, climate science, materials technology and medical technology. This makes studying Physics a fascinating, challenging and diverse part of the curriculum.

Skills and practices which we develop and use in Physics will also be useful in other scientific subjects such as Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Engineering and Earth and Environmental Sciences.

Throughout the GCSE and Advanced level years we teach students how to think logically and scientifically, how to plan and carry out investigations, make careful observations and interpret experimental results. Physics develops logical thinking and scientific skills such as questioning, analytical skills and problem solving. Students are encouraged to learn collaboratively, working in groups during practical work, on research projects and in discussions. Practical work underpins many of the topics studied at GCSE and Advanced level.

Physics is a popular subject at Advanced level and many of our students go on to study Science, Engineering, Mathematics and Computing based subjects at University.

 


Physics at Key Stage 3

 Term 1Term 2Term 3
Year 7Working Scientifically
This introduction topic provides students with the knowledge needed to plan, carry, analyse and evaluate practical work in Science.

Space
In Space, students take a trip around the solar system, looking at different planets before returning to Earth to learn about seasons and phases of the moon.
Light
In Light, students discover through practical work about reflection and refraction. Students then study how the eye works and why we see different colours.
Sound
During this topic, students study the difference between frequency, pitch, loudness and draw longitudinal and transverse waves. Students learn about the parts of the ear and why animals hear different sounds to each other. It finishes with the study of using ultrasound in the real world.
Year 8Electricity and Magnetism
This topic introduces students to the different types of circuits and the rules for current and potential difference. There are lots of opportunities for students to build circuits. Then, students look at how magnets and compasses work and draw magnetic fields, ending with making an electromagnet and looking at its uses.
Forces
In Forces, students study Hooke’s law, friction and learn the difference between mass and weight. This provides the opportunity for some mathematics and graph drawing.
Energy
Students discover the difference between energy and temperature and how the two are linked. They then look at the ways of transferring energy through substances. Then students learn about the ways of generating electricity from renewable and non renewable sources and how to calculate energy use of common appliances.

GCSE Curriculum: Years 9-11

The GCSE course is an exciting and challenging course which aims to develop an enquiring and analytical mind through a variety of activities including practical work, research and discussions.

GCSE Physics covers the following topics;

Energy: Energy changes in a system, and the ways energy is stored before and after such changes. Energy conservation, dissipation and national and global energy sources. Changes of state and the particle model. Internal energy, energy transfers and particle motions. The particle model, pressure and pressure differences in fluids.

Forces: Forces and their interactions. Moments, levers and gears. Speed, velocity, acceleration; distance-time and velocity-time graphs. Forces and Newton’s laws of motion. Safety in public transport.

Waves: Waves in the air, fluids and solids. Waves at material interfaces: their applications in exploring structures. The EM spectrum, frequency range of the spectrum and the interactions of electromagnetic radiation with matter and their applications. Colour and frequency; differential effects in transmission, absorption and diffuse reflection. Lenses. Black body radiation.

Electricity & Magnetism: Series and parallel circuits. Current, potential difference and resistance. Domestic uses and safety. Static electricity – forces and electric fields. Permanent and induced magnetism, magnetic forces and fields Magnetic effects of currents and the motor effect. Induced potential, transformers and the national grid. Microphones and speakers; oscillating currents in detection and generation of radiation.

Atomic Physics: The nuclear atom and isotopes. Absorption and emission of ionizing radiations and of electrons and nuclear particles. Hazards and uses of radioactive emissions and of background radiation. Nuclear fission and fusion.

The Solar system; stability of orbital motions; satellites. Red-shift as sources move away; the ‘big bang’ and universal expansion.


A Level Curriculum

The current course follows the Salters Horners’ context-led approach complimented by additional materials and significant staff experience of teaching the more traditional concept-led course. This approach begins with the consideration of an application that draws on many different areas of physics, and then moves on to the laws, theories and models of physics underlying this application.

In year 12 the course includes the study of mechanics, materials, waves, electricity and the wave/particle nature of light.

The year 13 course then includes the study of further mechanics (momentum and circular motion), electric and magnetic fields, and particle physics. Students also study thermal energy, nuclear decay, oscillations, astrophysics and cosmology.

Students will be introduced to the context and then study the relevant physics. This allows students to apply physics to everyday situations and gives them an appreciation of its importance in society and relates it to the needs of people. Lessons will consist of discussion, problem solving and practical work. Students should be confident mathematically and be prepared to take an active interest in the subject, including reading more widely about related topics.

Physics is a highly regarded subject in terms of demonstrating strong numerical, logical and problem solving skills. In addition to careers directly related to physics and research, it is also a compulsory ‘A’ level for studying Engineering at university.

 


The enriched curriculum

GCSE and Advanced Level Physics students have the opportunity to experience talks by leading Scientists at GCSE and A level Science Live events. A level students also have the opportunity to visit University Masterclass sessions and experience undergraduate style lectures in Physics first hand. There are also opportunities to attend public lectures on Physics topics such as the Bolton Lecture or the EC Stoner Colloquium at Leeds University. We also promote the Headstart, Inspire and Smallpiece Trust Engineering residential trips and frequently have a good number of students attending these from year groups 9 through to 13. A level Physics Students attend the regular Science Department Journal club meetings where students give presentations and then answer questions on aspects of science which interest them.