Teacher Network - Senior Teacher Fellowship: Tom Norman

14 August 2020

I was awarded a senior teacher fellowship so I could deliver a physics safe cracking challenge for local secondary schools in addition to a related primary liaison project and community Science Week events. Over the course of this academic year, the programme has reached 60 secondary students, 50 primary students and more than 150 people during Science Week across three secondary schools.

The project was initially devised as a South Devon Partnership event, but the senior teacher fellowship has enabled me to expand and progress the project following the end of our partnership funding.

Participants in the safe cracking challenge have to complete a number of physics practicals (relevant to the age of the participants) to reveal digits in the code of a safe hidden somewhere within the school. A physics quiz and decryption sheet will then reveal the location of the safe. Each challenge is led by A-level physics students at the school, who I have trained as part of the project.

The challenge is designed to engage the participating students through competition and help them with their physics skills and knowledge; the A-level students running the events develop both their leadership skills and their physics skills, as they help to design and deliver the various challenges and practicals.

The secondary schools participating in the project cascade the idea to their linked primary schools – delivering a primary safe cracking challenge to capture the imagination of the pupils and instil a love of physics.

Further events were run by the secondary schools as part of Science Week – engaging families and the wider community in the fun of physics as they undertook their own challenges to crack the code and find the hidden safe!

The activity has also been successfully used for other parent/child events during the year.

Organising my project has been really good fun and it has been great getting the general public inspired by my safe cracking event. Primary school students have really enjoyed ‘proper science at big school’ and I have been very proud of my sixth form ambassadors leading these events. I am always looking for new challenges within teaching and being an Ogden Senior Teacher Fellowship has been the most enjoyable project I have done.

Tom Norman
Senior Teacher Fellow 2019/20
Physics teacher, Brixham College
(June 2020)

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