Hello and welcome to Reigate College’s Physics Department.
My name is Hovan Catchatoor and I’m the course leader for 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.
All of the tasks should be completed by Choices Day on 25 August. Please take your time on each activity and make the most of this opportunity to go a bit deeper in your understanding of Physics.
The tasks will be released here in three phases:
Explore your Subject – 4 May
Physicists ask, “why?”
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.
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.
place to start is with Richard Feynman – one of the greatest physicists – and physics
teachers – of the 20th Century.
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.
these slightly different and a bit more recent videos from Veritasium’s YouTube
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!
You should complete this section of tasks by 1 June.
Get Going – 1 June
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.
This resource from the Institute of Physics has the personal stories of recent Physics graduates. Click on the image to find out where Physics can take you. You might find that knowing where it can lead helps with your motivation to study.
This link will take you straight to 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, the IOP’s comprehensive Careers information pages begin here.
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]
The best way to prepare for the challenge of A Level study
later this year is to keep learning now. With the cancellation of the summer
exams, it’s even more important that you stick to a pattern of regular learning
over the remaining weeks of term, from now into July.
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
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.
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 https://isaacphysics.org/ 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.
Aim High – 1 July
From 1 July
Once you’ve taken part in the College’s first ever Virtual Introductory Day on 30 June, you will be asked to complete a more formal Aim High task (posted here) that it is mandatory for all new students to complete before Choices Day on 25 August.