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Isaac Physics

Published: 9 July 2019

Dr Lisa Jardine-Wright and Professor Mark Warner have been jointly awarded the 2019 Lawrence Bragg Medal and Prize from the Institute of Physics for setting up and directing the Isaac Physics programme. The programme has revolutionised physics education for teachers and students in an extraordinary number of UK schools and is now attracting international attention.

Since 2013, Lisa and Mark have co-directed Isaac Physics, which uses technology to help all students, especially those exposed to the national shortage of physics teachers with consequent social disadvantage, in entering STEM at university.

Crucial to the success of Isaac Physics is the enthusiasm and skill which Lisa and Mark bring to the programme; cultivating an extremely talented project team to provide scalability alongside deep concern for the individual student. Both draw on years of experience with earlier projects, notably the Senior Physics Challenge and the Cambridge Physics at Work Exhibition.

DfE funding of £7M has recently been renewed, and The Ogden Trust continues to provide significant financial support to the programme, which shares many of the Trust’s key aims in supporting physics learning and teaching, especially for those in remote areas and areas of social deprivation.

“We are really pleased to be involved with Isaac Physics,” says Clare Harvey, Ogden Chief Executive. “The continued, and growing, engagement with the platform by teachers and students is really encouraging and the feedback shows what a positive impact Isaac Physics is having on those who use it. This award for Lisa and Mark is very well deserved – recognising their significant contribution to the success of Isaac Physics and to the development of physics education.”

Mark Warner talking with a student
Mark Warner talking with a student

Through the Isaac Physics programme, students develop analysis and deep understanding of physics through problem solving.

  • Teachers (>7,100) and 14-19 year-old students (>185,000) have freely accessed the Isaac Open Platform for Active Learning (OPAL).
  • Currently more than 3,600 schools participate, many with over 50 students registered.
  • Monthly, 28,000 students and 1,300 teachers use OPAL with daily peaks of 145,000 problems answered, yielding a 33 million total.
  • Progress of registered students is monitored, guided and encouraged on a highly interactive and individual basis, including live video tuition to students and teacher CPD each week.
  • For teachers, Isaac sets, marks and reports homework, saving thousands of labour hours monthly – vital in teacher retention.
  • About 120,000 Isaac books, uniquely featuring questions answered online that are marked with instant feedback on Isaac, have been distributed at cost (£1) to schools and individuals.
Lisa Jardine Wright at the Ogden East of England School Physicist of the Year event
Lisa Jardine Wright at the Ogden East of England School Physicist of the Year event

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