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Pupils discover the delights of physics

PUBLISHED: 13:00 26 February 2010 | UPDATED: 08:26 02 July 2010

Framingham Earl high school pupils Meg Graver (left) and Kara Campbell messing around with a Airzooker at a physics roadshow

Framingham Earl high school pupils Meg Graver (left) and Kara Campbell messing around with a Airzooker at a physics roadshow

David Bale

Physics may not be the most inspiring subject at school, but one teacher who begs to differ has been visiting students in the county to prove otherwise.

Physics may not be the most inspiring subject at school, but one teacher who begs to differ has been visiting students in the county to prove otherwise.

Teacher David Richardson brought his Ever Wondered Why? Roadshow to Framingham Earl High School, near Norwich, yesterday to show students that physics can be relevant and inspiring, and to persuade more youngsters to study it.

To get across the message he used live, hands-on demonstrations with airzookas, smoke machines, and whizzy-whirly straws, whilst also teaching the youngsters about core physics principles, from the nature of what we are made of to the size of the universe.

Headteacher Nicola Furneaux said the roadshow, which was launched by the Institute of Physics (IOP) and the National Science Learning Centre (NSLC), was a big success with the pupils from Years 9 and 10, especially the exploding hydrogen balloons.

She said: “The show was aimed at stimulating interest in physics and there were a lot of awe-inspiring demonstrations, visual trickery and hands-on participation that seemed to be popular. Students love big bangs.

“Everything they saw will be followed up in more detail during science lessons throughout the term.”

Over the course of 2010, Mr Richardson's roadshow will visit schools across England, as part of the new government-funded Stimulating Physics Network, which is working with science teachers to help increase the appeal of physics in schools across England.

Mr Richardson, who is on sabbatical from Clifton College in Bristol, said his aim was to share his enjoyment of physics with as many secondary school pupils as he can reach.

He said: “I have an overwhelming passion to teach and to see young people learn physics. I am motivated by helping them realise that physics is not dull but rather that physics is at the root of almost everything that makes life exciting.”

His lectures are accompanied by tailored lessons, created by himself and shared with the schools' science teachers to help widen the impact of the show.

Charles Tracy, head of education pre-19 at IOP, said: “The roadshow has been designed to 'wow' people.

“We hope it triggers the imagination of thousands of students and inspires them to take on more scientific study, producing the army of scientists we need to overcome the 21st century's challenges.”

The roadshow also visited Flegg High School in Martham this week.

To find out more go to www.stimulatingphysics.org.

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