"Brain Workout" for Physics Teachers at the Cavendish Laboratory

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“It’s a proper brain workout,” said one of the thirty-seven physics teachers enjoying three days of subject workshops, practical experiments and teaching observations at the Physics Teachers Cambridge Residential.

Funded by the Rutherford Physics Partnership, the residential has been held for four years alongside the Senior Physics Challenge.

The residential provides teachers with copies of the resources and ideas which underpin the Rutherford Physics Project and the Senior Physics Challenge, so that they can take them back to school and into their classrooms, and the opportunity to see how the students taking part in the Challenge tackle the problems.

“It can be really difficult to find things for our higher-level physics students to do,” said Holly Lindsay, Head of Physics at Ormiston Sudbury Academy, Suffolk.

“This residential has provided lots of resources and two really good websites which I can use with our top physicists.”

“It’s also been a great opportunity for networking – we’ve been sharing our emails and are going to carry on sharing ideas when we get back into the classroom,” Holly added.

The residential also gives teachers the opportunity to discuss physics and physics education with each other and with Cambridge academics, and a chance to think in alternative ways about teaching.

John Crossland, Science Teacher at Beaminster School, has travelled from Dorset to join the residential.

“It’s been really invaluable – it’s going to really help me add value to teaching our Gifted and Talented A Level students," John said.

“We’ve been hearing about the plans for the Rutherford Physics Partnership MOOC – it’s really exciting that these resources will be available for me to use as extension activities, and that our more able and talented physicists will have somewhere to go to challenge their brains.

“The insight into the course provision at Cambridge and the requirements to gain entry into the university have also been an eye-opener for me.”

"Because we’ve been visiting and staying in the different Colleges, I feel like I’ve had a good chance to see what it would be like to attend Cambridge as an undergraduate.”

The Rutherford Physics Project is a five-year project, that began in 2013, aimed at developing the skills of sixth-form physicists  (funded by a £7 million grant by the Department for Education) which is delivering extension materials, on-line learning, workshops for students and support for physics teachers. 

“Our hope and goal is that the learning resources and activities offered by the project will enable more students from all backgrounds to gain physics expertise beyond school level, encourage more students to apply for physics, engineering and mathematics at highly-selective universities throughout the UK, and equip them to best demonstrate their academic potential,” said Dr. Lisa Jardine Wright, co-director of the Rutherford Physics Project.

“The residential is also an opportunity for the Faculty to discuss ideas and concepts with teachers. Teachers know the areas of the curriculum which students find challenging. Their assistance in developing our Rutherford Physics Project resources is invaluable,” she added.


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