Physics is a stimulating and highly practical natural science that promotes hands on experience and learning. It is a respected subject, as part of a broad and balanced education. Physics is useful, and in many cases essential, for anyone considering a career in engineering, architecture, avionics, meteorology, pharmacy, medicine, radiology or forensic science – among many others.
In the Middle Department, Physics is taught as part of combined Science lessons.
In the final stage of the physical component of the Key Stage 3 (KS3) Science course, the Year 9 Physics course prepares students for the start of IGCSE in Year 10 by challenging their understanding through frequent practical investigation and the introduction of new facts, figures and theories. As in the rest of the KS3 courses there is a strong emphasis on how science works. Students' understanding of real world, everyday physical processes broadens and strengthens as a consequence.
Students learn through practical activities wherever possible, supported by prepared notes, internet research and other visual resources. Year 9 students are expected to use ICT in many of their lessons, where the textbook is supported by extensive online notes and interactive activities.
The Year 9 course is assessed through a mixture of both informal and formal topic tests and National Curriculum Level-assessed tasks. Students' priority should be to work hard throughout the year in preparation for their end-of-year exams, as it is the results of these which will determine each student's set for the beginning of their IGCSE Physics course in Year 10.
This course is taught through practical investigation, class and home-based questions, unit tests, video, ICT simulations, project work, formal teaching and class discussions. Students who choose to study Physics at IGCSE will be expected to use ICT in many of their lessons for information gathering, analysis of results and for obtaining prepared notes.
All students are given detailed notes on each of the topics being taught. These are Microsoft Word documents that students download onto their laptops and may then augment or amend as necessary. Access to Absorb Physics, an online Physics tuition package, is provided and is an excellent resource for revision of topics throughout the IGCSE.
The IGCSE course is taught over two years with separate topics arranged as shown below.
Term 1: Light and opticsTerm 2: Electrostatics and circuitsTerm 3: Energy, density and motionTerm 4: MagnetismTerm 5: Electromagnetism
Term 1: Thermal physicsTerm 2: Forces and mock examinationTerm 3: Waves and soundTerm 4: Radioactivity and electronicsTerm 5: Past paper revision
An AS Level Physics qualification provides a solid platform for studying science subjects at university level and from there into a wide range of careers – including engineering, aeronautics, electronics, meteorology and space science, as well as careers in research. It is also valued outside the sciences as a general qualification.
The pace of work in AS Level Physics is suited to students who are dedicated and highly investigative, who back up their studies with large amounts of reading, especially of relevant websites, magazines and newspaper articles. Suitable TV/DVD material as well as internet information should be used where appropriate. As classes are small, individual tutoring is available for many of the tasks set. Nevertheless, individual research and extra reading are absolutely vital to broaden students' knowledge and understanding.
AS Level Physics builds upon work covered at IGCSE and extends it into new and stimulating areas. The course has a heavy practical bias and promotes skills which support further study in any science discipline.
Terms 1 and 2 - Unit 1 - Mechanics and Materials
Equations of motion are investigated using data logging, light gates and air tracks. Projectile motion is introduced, along with calculations involving vector components. Newton's three laws are studied in more depth and gravitational field strength, g, is measured. The study of mechanics, as applied to safety and sports as well as to other practical situations, is included. New topics are introduced, such as the laminar, streamline and turbulent flow of fluids, Stokes' law and viscosity as a function of temperature. Students' understanding of Hooke's law is extended to stress-strain graphs and Young modulus, and properties such as elastic and plastic deformation are investigated as well as terms such as brittle, ductile, hard and malleable.
Term 3 and 4 - Units 2 - Waves, the Nature of Light and DC Electricity
This unit covers the nature of transverse and longitudinal waves and includes the study of wavefronts, coherence, standing waves, phase difference, nodes and antinodes. Transmission and reflection of waves at a boundary, pulse-echo techniques for finding position or speed of objects and Doppler shift of sound or light waves, together with discussion of applications as well as social and ethical issues of these ideas are covered. The unit then investigates the nature of light in terms of waves and photons and how ideas about these have changed over time. Einstein's photoelectric equation and the electron volt unit of energy, as well as line spectra, are explained. The way that science is used by society to make decisions – for example, using solar cells or low energy light bulbs as replacement of other energy sources – is discussed.
In the study of DC electricity, knowledge gained at IGCSE is extended to include internal resistance of cells, resistivity and the physics of conduction in metals and semiconductors. Charge-carrier speed and superconductivity is studied and data logging techniques are compared to traditional data gathering methods.
A2 Physics follows directly on from the previous year's AS course and enables completion of the full A Level. It also has a heavy practical bias, thus promoting essential skills for further study at degree level.
Unit 4: Further mechanics, including circular motion; electric and magnetic fields; flux linkage; Fleming's law; Faraday's law; Lenz's law; particle physics including thermionic emission, particle accelerators and the quark-lepton model of atoms.
Unit 5: Thermal energy; the ideal gas equation and the concept of internal energy; nuclear decay and half-life calculations; oscillations and simple harmonic motion; astrophysics, including the Hertsprung-Russell diagram, Stefan-Boltzmann law, dark matter and gravity viewed in the wider context of cosmology.
Unit 6: Written Alternative to Practical
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