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The circus of physics

KS3 students discover the physics of throwing a juggling ball, spinning a plate and tossing a diablo.

Published: 26 November 2021

This autumn Turtle Key Arts launched their new workshop programme The Circus of Physics, with the support of The Ogden Trust. These workshops are being delivered by Bristol based circus-theatre company Oddly Moving and their science partner the Institute of Physics.

The Circus of Physics delves into the physics of throwing a juggling ball, spinning a plate and tossing a diablo. Designed for KS3 students in schools and youth groups, the participants learn about energy transfer and forces in a fun interactive way. The workshops are supported by undergraduate physicists from the University of Bristol and University of Bath who have taken to their role as the science experts with great enthusiasm and enjoyed the opportunity to communicate their knowledge in a new way.

“Sanju and Monica were brilliant workshop leaders, open, encouraging and informative. I was particularly impressed by how well they explained complex physics principles so that they were understandable and at the right level for the age group.”
Grania Pickard, Artistic Director of Oddly Moving

Undergraduate physicists practise their plate spinning.

A key aim of the project is to encourage those who are statistically less inclined to pursue physics as a career, targeting low socio-economic areas as well as young women. The workshop programme started this month and by the end of the year, nine workshops will have been delivered, reaching nearly 100 young people. A recent workshop was delivered to the 25th Kingswood Guides.

“A great evening, well organised and plenty of quality resources for everyone to use. I was surprised how much the children knew from school and how enthusiastic they were to share.”
Elizabeth Brown, Guide Leader

The Circus of Physics is an ambitious project with a target to deliver 40 workshops to 20 organisations with the potential to make a real difference to how young people perceive physics.

The team will be completing a short tour next year, and a limited number of workshops are still available. Tour locations include Worthing, North London, Salford, Basingstoke, Barnsley and Hull. You can download the Circus of Physics flyer here for more information.

A 1-hour playful discovery of physics principles using circus equipment. What better way to explore how gravity works than by juggling? Or the effect of forces by spinning a plate? The Circus of Physics uses movement and skill-based teaching to show how physics works in practise.

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