Head of Science, Ms M McKenna, firstname.lastname@example.org
Head of Physics, Mr C Sinclair, email@example.com
Why study this subject?
Physics is the study of the entire universe. It begins by suggesting theories to explain the world around us and extends to consider the range from space down to the sub-atomic level. Students will need to use a large range of skills including: logical thinking, practical and experimental skills alongside mathematical and communication skills.
Physics is at the heart of many scientific breakthroughs, both past and present, that have shaped our everyday lives and as a result modern society depends heavily on the contributions made by Physicists. Where would you be without your mobile phone, TV, favourite games console or sports car?
Year 9 sequence of lessons
Half Term 1&2 - Energy
The concept of energy emerged in the 19th century and was used to explain the work output of steam engines and then generalised to understand other heat engines.
Energy is a fundamental topic of physics and is revisited time and time again as it is a key element across all areas within physics. This is why it is placed at the start of the GCSE course. Students will learn the concepts that provide the building blocks for further application such as energy stores, transfer of energy between stores, efficiency, power and specific examples including Hooke’s Law. Real world applications are then brought in with how we generate electrical energy and insulate our homes.
Half Term 2&3 - Electricity
Leaning on the core knowledge of energy, students now study in depth the transfer of energy in electrical circuits. Again a fundamental topic, electricity requires a raft of new knowledge in order to assimilate the workings of an electrical circuit. The concepts of charge, current, resistance and potential difference are explored in depth and students will need to apply a range of formulae to solve complex problems.
Students will conduct their first ‘required practical’ here to investigate the concepts studied in the topic. Energy is continually referenced and interleaved throughout therefore students will use this to understand the idea of ‘electrical power’.
Half Term 3&4 - Particle Model of Matter
A further fundamental topic is now introduced to students in the form of kinetic theory. This topic provides the building blocks for the more conceptually challenging topic of nuclear radiation. This topic builds on the study of particles in Key Stage 3 but now with an increased emphasis on the accurate use of scientific language. Students use this language to describe and explain the state of matter. The concept of density is also studied here including a required practical to determine the density of regular and irregular shaped objects. This provides an opportunity for students to apply the ‘working scientifically’ curriculum which is common to all sciences.
Half Term 5&6 - Nuclear radiation
In 1896, the French physicist Antoine Henri Becquerel accidentally discovered nuclear radiation. This discovery and the underlying physics of nuclear radiation is a fascinating addition to the subject. It provides an exciting culmination of the physics language and concepts studied to date in Year 9.
Nuclear radiation is conceptually very difficult and requires key concepts such as particles, energy and charge for students to thoroughly understand and explain these abstract ideas. Students begin with describing the nucleus and isotopes which leads into the cause and fabric of nuclear radiation. The concept of half life is explored as well as nuclear power stations and radioactive waste. This topic provides an excellent SMSC opportunity as students use their understanding of ionisation, half life and background radiation to discuss and debate nuclear weapons and the widespread use of nuclear power.
Year 10 sequence of lessons
Half Term 1 & 2 - Energy
The underlying concept of all of physics is revisited at the start of Year 10 with more complex applications now introduced. Using the building blocks of energy stores and basic kinetic theory studied in Year 9, students will consolidate their understanding and will be introduced to Specific Heat Capacity the the transfer of heat energy in general. Specific Heat capacity will be explored in detail with a dedicated required practical.
Half Term 3 & 4 - Electricity
Students will again consolidate their learning of the principles underlying the movement of charge within an electrical circuit that was studied in Year 9. This will now be applied to the specific components namely filament lamps, thermistors, LDRs, Diodes and LEDs. Students will have the opportunity to investigate these components and use their understanding and scientific language to explain their signature V-I graphs.
The study of electrical power, voltage and current is now linked to the energy resources topic in Year 9 by studying the national grid including electrical demand. The picture is completed by studying electrical safety in the home.
Half Term 4 - Particles
During this half term, students consolidate their understanding of kinetic theory further and build upon this by describing the phenomenon of brownian motion. Students can now begin to use their language and understanding to explore the concept of internal energy and how this allows to model particle behaviour between changes of state. The concept of specific latent heat is now needed and students will draw upon this and specific heat capacity to describe fully the graphical representation of the changes of state.
Students use their now deep understanding of particle behaviour at different temperatures and states to consider more carefully the behaviour of particles in the gaseous state. Students are now able to model and visualise gas pressure and the effect of temperature, volume and the number of particles. They will also use Boyle’s law to predict changes in pressure due to changes in volume at a constant temperature.
Half term 5 & 6 - Waves
Energy, again, is the setting for the final term in Year 10 and brings the students’ learning full circle. Students will have learnt in Year 9 that energy is transferred via either mechanical work, electrical work, heating or radiation. Electrical work and heating have been covered in depth during Years 9 and 10 to date and now students explore the transfer of energy via radiation or WAVES.
Students will acquire a raft of new language to describe waves and apply this common language to mechanical waves and electromagnetic waves. All students will investigate ways in which measure the ‘speed’ of waves as well explore the phenomenon of refraction.
Year 11 sequence of lessons
Half Term 1 & 2 - Forces and Motion
With the fundamentals of energy and particularly the conservation of energy studied in Year 10, students are now able to embark fully on the study of Newton’s laws of motion. These laws govern classical physics and their application is all to see in our everyday lives. There is a lot of new language here for example interia, moments and the resolving of forces.
Students begin with an overview of forces and the key language to explain them including concepts of scalars and vectors. Students will be using a huge amount of their mathematical skills to solve complex problems including graphical analysis of motion graphs. Students will apply this understanding to the example of terminal velocity before studying further concepts such as momentum and atmospheric pressure.
Half Term 3 - Electromagnetism
Using their core understanding of charges from the Electricity topic in Year 10, students will now study the wonderful world of electromagnetism. The work James Maxwell, over hundred years ago, led to the following interactions:
The force of attraction or repulsion between electric charges
Magnetic poles come in pairs that attract and repel each other, much as electric charges do.
An electric current in a wire produces a magnetic field
These interactions will be studied exposing students to phenomena which become increasingly more difficult to model and conceptualise. Although a difficult topic, students will have the opportunity to to build their electric motors!
Half Term 4&5 - Space and revision
Those students studying Triple Science will now study Space Physics. This topic allows students to draw upon their knowledge of fundamental physics and mathematical skills to describe and explain the life cycle of a star; use the concept of redshift to explain the principle evidence for the big bang theory and to describe the orbits of artificial and natural satellites.
All students will now embark on class led revision to supplement their own ongoing preparation for their exams. Much of the material is interleaved throughout the course, significantly aiding the revision process, but due to intricate spiralling of the curriculum from Year 9 to now, teachers will revise knowledge studied in Year 9 first. Students will be re-taught notable misconceptions as well and practice an extensive range of past paper questions.