Hello and welcome to Reigate College’s Physics Department.
My name is Nicky Robinson and I’m the Head of Physics A Level. Physics is a fascinating subject so I’m really pleased you’d like to carry on studying it at A Level and I’m looking forward to welcoming you to the department in person at the beginning of the academic year.
In preparation for this, I’d like you to complete a series of tasks and activities over the coming months. These tasks should be completed independently at home, and there’ll be the chance to discuss what you’ve learnt all together when you start the course in September.
The tasks are organised in three distinct steps and should ideally, all be completed by Choices Day on 30 August 2023. This is to give you the best insight into what the courses will be like and/or help prepare you for them.
Please note, some Course Leaders (for example for Music) may release their tasks earlier, as they may form part of the College’s audition process. If this applies to you, you’ll be notified separately.
New Starters Course Tasks and Activities
|Release date||Suggested Completion Dates|
|Explore your Subject||1 June||1 July|
|Get Going||1 June||1 August|
|Aim High||1 June||1 September|
Physicists ask, “why?”
Why doesn’t the chair collapse when I sit on it?
Why does tea stay in a cup, but the cup stays on the table, while the vapour rises?
Why does an apple fall to the ground and why doesn’t the moon do the same thing?
As we learn more about how our world works and find ways to see more of what happens in it, we will find even more questions to ask.
But it’s just not about asking questions. Physicists want to find answers too and when the questions are too big for one person, they work together to suggest, predict, test, imagine, design, calculate, invent and whatever else it takes to craft, construct or create an answer that works well or well enough or better than our last attempt.
A great place to start is with Richard Feynman – one of the greatest physicists – and physics teachers – of the 20th Century.
Please watch these short videos that show how a great mind tackles big questions, but also thinks deeply about apparently simple ones. They are BBC recordings from 1983.
Now watch these slightly different and a bit more recent videos from Veritasium’s YouTube channel.
Five fun Physics phenomena – questions
Five fun Physics phenomena – answers
Three perplexing Physics problems
If you can watch all the way through to find the out the answer, that’s good; but if you’re the kind of person who stops the video to think about your own answer, before you watch the rest, that’s way better – please come and join our course!
If you ask yourself, “Why?” and follow that up by thinking for yourself, Physics is A Level is definitely for you!
Whether you’ve firmly decided to take Physics at A Level, or whether you’re still making your mind up, the next few weeks are a perfect opportunity to explore Physics as a subject and find out where it can lead.
Wanting to learn for yourself and taking responsibility for your own learning are key areas you need to develop to be successful at A Level.
Visit the IOP Careers page where you can click on videos of real people and explore different types of career.
For those who want to search all the options, start with the IOP’s comprehensive Careers information pages.
The best Physics students are almost always the ones who genuinely enjoy the subject. Take some time to find and explore everything Physics-y that interests you. Here are 5 links to get you started, but check out the UBS Guide* too. It’s crammed with useful advice and has just about the best list of Physics websites in the Milky Way… until you make a better one! [*Thanks to Ms D. Cross]
YouTube’s original Physicist?
Enthusiasm, energy and education – a great mix!
Royal Institution – Physics
Serious content with fun too
TED Actions and Reactions
1/3 of the short clips on this playlist are straight Physics
Crash Course Physics
Bridges GCSE and AS topics
The best way to prepare for the challenge of A Level study later this year is to keep learning now. With the large gap between the end of your GCSEs and the start of your time at college, it’s important that you continue with a pattern of regular learning over the summer to keep your brain exercised.
For the next few weeks, I want you to Keep Learning.
Suggested below are some different resources to take a look at. Have a look into all of them and then pick one or more that you like the look of. Your priority is to learn something Physics-related every day, plus make sure you’ve revised the whole of the GCSE syllabus before you start at the College.
The UBS Guide is an excellent resource to help you prepare for A Level study. Let’s see what it recommends in terms of study time:
No, you don’t have to do exactly this – some people work better in the afternoon or evening, for example – but whatever you do, it should be at least as good as this.
Notice how the whole programme gives variety and routine. Each self-guided lesson should also have a clear subject focus (routine), but mix different activities and might even move between subject topics (variety).
Don’t get bored, get busy. Plan to be busy.
So, what should you do in your self-guided lessons? Use your brain, of course! You’ll need pen, paper, laptop etc, but all these things are to help you think Physics. Let’s start with knowledge.
Recalling facts and sorting out ideas in our heads are often called “low level thinking skills”, but since everything else depends on them, we should give them respect.
The Seneca website is a great resource for freshening up and extending your knowledge.
As I’ve already said, revising the whole GCSE course is a priority for this summer period. You will need to be rock solid on GCSE content when we start the A Level syllabus in the Autumn. Give time to do this job properly.
Next you need to work on your skills, especially the skill of using our knowledge to solve problems.
Isaac Physics is an excellent online Physics resource which covers GCSE to first year undergraduate level in a series of 5 levels.
This GCSE mastery learning package is available in print for £1, but the questions and subject notes can be accessed free online.
Select topic questions to match your revision and set yourself a weekly target: an hour’s worth, 25 questions or your own aim. They’ll stretch you, but you will get better.
Welcome back to Physics.
For this last series of tasks we’d like you to complete a number of lessons on different topics. Before you start, please watch the following introductory video:
Lesson 0.1 Course introduction
Click the link to download the baseline assessment. We suggest you complete this before you go through the five lessons.
You can access the material for each lesson by clicking on the folder below. Where a folder contains more than one file, please ensure you go through them in numerical order. Each lesson should take you around an hour to complete.
Lesson One: Constant acceleration
Lesson Five: Parallel circuits
If you have any problems accessing the material, please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org
Once you’ve completed the five lessons, you might like to redo the baseline assessment and compare your results.