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A cracking challenge!

Published: 2 March 2020


Do you have an inspiring physics education project that you would like to share? Applications are now open to the Ogden Senior Teacher Fellowship programme for 2020/21. The programme offers funding to schools for a physics teacher’s timetable release and supports project costs so teachers can deliver initiatives that bring the wonder of physics to a wider audience. Deadline: 22 May.

As part of his Ogden Senior Teacher Fellowship this year, Tom Norman has devised and delivered a physics safe cracking challenge to engage students and their families in the fun of physics.

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 hidden safe. A physics quiz and decryption sheet then reveal the location of the safe.

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

three male students working on a challenge

Tom, a physics teacher at Brixham College, is training A-level science ambassadors to help him deliver the challenges at schools in South Devon and preparations are being finalised for some ‘cracking’ challenges during Science Week in March.

“Brixham College science ambassadors have run the safe cracking challenge for students from the five schools in our cluster; many of these secondary schools have now started running their own safe cracking challenge events (and other workshops) for students, families and their local primary schools,” explains Tom.

“We have invited teams of Year 5/6 pupils from our feeder primary schools to come to Brixham College for a challenge day during Science Week, and are looking forward to welcoming 50 students and their teachers. There will also be a family event during Science Week where the students and the grown-ups can battle it out to open the safe and get to the prize! They will arrive in the evening and have some refreshments before working in family teams to be the first to find the location of the safe and crack the code.

“The time available to me through my Senior Teaching Fellowship has been used to run a training day for the sixth form students involved, to lead my own group of students in organising each of the events and to change the content of the challenge depending on the target audience,” explains Tom. “I have also been able to supervise each challenge event so far to ensure that they run smoothly and safely. I am now developing the resources so that this safe cracking challenge can be made available for other schools to use too,” concludes Tom.

“Senior Teacher Fellowships are awarded to teachers who have demonstrated an exceptional commitment to physics education and have worked with the Trust before. The Fellowship programme is designed to help give teachers the capacity to deliver a physics project that is outside of their teaching commitments,” explains Programme Manager, Paul Sapple. “Enabling teachers to pursue and progress their ideas will develop pedagogy and support extra-curricular activity, whilst also sharing their expertise beyond their school.”

“The projects should address the aims of the Trust, and should help inspire or empower young people to take physics further,” continues Paul. “They should help to build science capital and aim to reach some of the Trust’s priority audiences.”

“We would like the projects to be sustainable once the Fellowship has ended,” says Paul. “And we would like to be able to share the project idea, know-how and resources so that other teachers can consider implementing the idea in their school or local area.”

Applicants must currently be, or have previously been, involved with an Ogden Trust programme and must be teaching in a state funded school in England. You can more information on eligibility and how to apply on our Teacher Support pages. Deadline for applications: Friday 22 May 2020.

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