Last weekend, 90 people gathered at Netherhall School in Cambridge for the seventh annual Stimulating Physics East of England Day (SPEED). A well-established highlight for local physics teachers and technicians, the day is supported by the Institute of Physics, the Stimulating Physics Network, The Ogden Trust and Isaac Physics.
This year, all workshops highlighted inclusive teaching strategies. Ally Davies (Hub Events Manager for Isaac Physics, IOP Teacher Network Co-ordinator, Cambridgeshire, and an Ogden Teacher Fellow – amongst his many physics functions) who organises the day, said: “The Institute of Physics has invested significantly in supporting schools to encourage more girls to study A-level physics. I’m delighted that we are promoting their guidance, and many delegates commented on their improved understanding of unconscious bias.”
Delegates each chose three one-hour workshops from a programme of fourteen. Some were highly practical, sharing knowledge and skills on GCSE standard practicals, waves, forces and motion, electricity, or even making equipment to use in lessons (photon energy / Planck constant boxes and ride on dynamics trolleys). There were plenty of examples of affordable and straightforward practical activities to support teachers and technicians.
“Brilliant hands-on practicals showing tips and pitfalls.”
“I’ll be using the kit I made to find the Planck constant with my students.
“Affordable demos - brilliant!”
“Lots of easy forces demos to show my classes.”
“Excellent confidence boosting session with opportunity to ask questions and learn trouble-shooting techniques.”
Other workshops concentrated on improving teachers’ understanding of challenging issues and on their teaching strategies: developing resilience, energy, unconscious bias, rearranging and memorising equations, and ideas from physics education research.
“The vocabulary of energy stores and pathways will help me get the story right!”
“Rearranging equations session was amazing”
“Great session on identifying misconceptions in physics”
“Will be more aware of gender bias"
“I’ll be using diagnostic questions”
“I’ll be thinking about groupings and how I ask questions”
Meanwhile, Isaac Physics showed teachers how they can reduce their marking workload and give better feedback to their students using its FREE teacher tools. Free online introductions for teachers are available online.
“Definitely using Isaac Physics”
Delegates were able to visit the University of Cambridge Engineering Department and the regional branch of the Institute of Physics was on hand too with a large selection of free educational resources from reports and guidance to pens, rubbers and stickers. The afternoon included a carousel of five-minute presentations sharing teaching tips and ideas, and at the end of the day there was a raffle – every delegate could choose a free prize useful for their teaching or in the prep-room.
“We really value the teachers and technicians who give up their weekend to attend – so thank you for taking the time,” said Ally. “Feedback from the delegates shows that they really value the event too so it is definitely worthwhile. I must say a huge thank you to the workshop leaders and helpers too and to Netherhall for hosting us.”
“First time I’ve attended - found everything I needed.”
“Fantastic event, as always, in all respects.”
“Will look forward to this next year.”
Useful links, resources, presentations, and delegate discussion can be found here.
Interested in SPEED2018? You’ll find it listed here.