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Physics in photos

Published: 26 March 2021

Are you feeling inspired by the recent photo of the superior mirage, captured off the coast of Cornwall? It reminds us that the wonders of science are all around us!

Photography competitions are a great way of encouraging young scientists to look differently at the world, capturing the imagination of students (and their families) and inspiring them to think about the physics in everyday life.

The Cleveland NE Partnership is currently asking pupils for photos that show ‘Science in my world’. What does science means to their partnership pupils – where might they find it? how does daily life link to science? And how can they show all that in a photo!

“Science has been a huge part of daily life for all of our children over the past year,” explains partnership co-ordinator, Charlie Dunning. “Every time they switched the news on, they heard the words ‘We are following the science’, ‘The science is telling us’, however, linked to these quotes were huge numbers of people dying, images of hospitals filled with extremely poorly people and we felt that, particularly for some of our children who had lost family members or been affected by COVID, it was all quite negative.

“Scientists on the news often appeared to confirm the stereotypical image of a man of a particular age and image,” continues Charlie. “We wanted to address this and show our children that science is everywhere! From the hairdresser mixing chemicals to colour hair, to the keen gardener preening their plants, even watching water change from a liquid to a gas when running a hot, steamy bath.

Our children love taking selfies and that in itself involves lots of science,” concludes Charlie. “We really just wanted to raise their awareness and show them just how wonderful science is!”

The Ogden North Suffolk Partnership has just announced the winners of its first photography competition which was themed around motion. Pupils from partnership schools were asked to submit a photo to explain how it fitted with the theme. Over 100 photos were entered across the partnership with the winning photos from each school selected by their school governors. Each winning entry received a digital camera.

child jumping and child on a swing


Photos from the competition - falling sand, dog running and child in falling snow
Some of the entries from the North Suffolk photo competition.

“We were delighted with the entries we received for this competition,” says event organiser and partnership co-ordinator, Rachael Earle. “It is lovely to see how we can bring physics to life through photography.”

Paul Hesford, co-ordinator for the Warrington Partnership, agrees – their photo competition is now underway and is generating a buzz across the partnerships involving teachers, parents and the students as they try to catch physics in photos.

“Physics in photos is an activity for all, whether they are aspiring scientists, future Van Gogh’s or they just love snapping pictures with filters on their iPhone,” says Paul. “No matter how young or old, this competition engages all pupils across the partnership. As the competition is being promoted via social media, it allows parents to get involved (especially parents from the primary schools) and to engage in physics with their children. Teachers from our partnership schools are also joining in with their own inspiring physics in photos!”

teacher with van de graaff generator and static hair
Warrington Partnership photo competition entry from Priestley College.

Picture top right from the Warrington Partnership competition: This photo shows refraction. When light passes through an object with a higher density causing them to change direction.

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