Welcome to practical physicsPracticle physics - practical activities designed for use in the classroom with 11 to 19 year olds
 

Topics

There will be about 800 experiments to contribute to students' skills and knowledge of physics. To help you find what you are looking for, we group them into about a dozen topics.

Astronomy
Astronomy can be taught in many ways. Here we use an historical approach, starting with the early Greeks, which shows how science explanations can be built from careful and systematic observations. 

Atoms and nuclei
Understanding and explaining atomic and nuclear structures in terms of fundamental particles remains one of the challenges of modern physics. 

 


 

Electric circuits and fields
The quest to understand electricity can introduce students to the uses and limitations of physical models. It can also lead to a realization that electrical phenomena result from a fundamental property of matter - electric charge - a deep mystery at the heart of things. 


 

Electromagnetism
From simple field patterns of bar magnets through to the laws of electromagnetic induction. Seeing one ring magnet suspended above another provides a vivid example of a force acting at a distance. It invites questions that can only be answered by pure theory. 

Energy
Energy is one of the unifying concepts of science and a main theme that runs throughout the teaching of physics. It occurs everywhere, and can't be avoided. 


 

Forces and motion
Force is one of the fundamental concepts of physics. A constant concern in teaching forces is to give real meaning to this abstract concept. Too easily forces become mere arrows on paper and the connection with reality is lost. 


 

Molecules in motion
Called 'kinetic theory', this is one of the 'big ideas' in science. All matter is made of atoms (often molecules), but with an enormous variety of arrangements and different motions. 


 

Optics
Optics provides lots of practical opportunities for students, most of which require a limited range of simple equipment. But successful learning requires a logical teaching approach, with experiments that work and can be seen to work. 

Physical quantities
Physicists try to describe and explain everything from galaxies to quarks. The measurement of physical quantities is an essential part of the toolkit for this work. Making simple measurements of quantities such as mass, length and time can provide students with a good introduction to more complex and sophisticated physics. 

Sound and vibrations
 

Open evenings
Physics can be fun. Experiments that are visually dramatic, or produce unexpected effects, are especially suitable for demonstrations on stage. Intriguing experiments make good conversation starters at Open Evenings. In both cases, a teacher performance can help the audience to understand real and interesting physics. 


 

Physics applications
Many applications of physics illustrate and use concepts from across a range of physics topics. Physics applications will eventually contain collections of experiments covering applications such as communications, transport and medical imaging. For the moment we offer this mixed sample of experiments. 



 

Waves
Waves come in many forms. There are mechanical waves, such as water waves, sound waves and earthquake waves. There are also electromagnetic waves, such as radio, television, microwaves, visible light, and X-rays. These are widely used in modern life so it is important that young people learn about them.