Teaching Junior Cert Science: Electricity

I needed to start puting together resources for Junior Cert Physics, so I started with some simple ideas for teaching Electricity.
I lost it just a little at the beginning but decided to include it in case people got to thinking that all my classes are perfect – far from it.

Play the survival game: a cool resource for teaching Evolution


The Science Channel have produced a wonderful learning resource on evolution here. I tried it with my Transition Year class and they found it addictive, as did my Leaving Cert Physics class when they walked in and saw it on the screen.  For what is arguably the greatest idea mankind has ever come up with, there appears to be remarkably few quality resources available online.

The Welcome Trust have produced some text-based resources here (top right of page), which isn’t quite the same thing.
Is it because we as teachers are not pushing to have it taught at all levels in schools that there are so few resources out there?
Or are there resources online that I just don’t know about?

Unusual resource for explaining Joule’s Law

An offshoot of Joules’ Law is that when transmitting electrical power, the current is kept as low as  possible in order to reduce energy losses associated with heat of the electrical cables. Because the power being transferred is the product of the voltage and the current, we can still get the same power transferred if we halve the current and double the voltage, or; make the current very, very small and make the voltage very, very big.

So power -lines transmit power at a voltage of up to 400,000 volts. Then, as the power gets closer to the home, the voltage is reduced in stages, and correspondingly the current gets increased. This occurs in appiances called transformers.

I came across a lovely interactive explanation of this when in honeymoon in Hong Kong.
I couldn’t resist.

Another Physics teacher shares resources on Youtube

Tom Healy teaches Physics in Cabinteely Community School and for quite a while now has been uploading revision videos on Leaving Cert Physics to youtube. He has almost 50 up there by now and has divided them into Mandatory and Non-mandatory experiments.

A wonderful way to revise, but also a wonderful resource for any new teachers.
Why couldn’t this have been available when I was starting out?

Mr Devitt teaches us about Light

Jerome Devitt (History Teacher) runs a transition-year module on Light and Sound for theatres, and kindly agreed to allow us in to watch him teach one of his lessons.

Not all of it comes out great on video, but it should still prove very usefull for Senior Phyics classes.

If you would like to play with a virtual version of this, where you can control the postion and intensity of the lights, click here.

Thanks Jerome

The old bed of nails

We have Open Day coming up and I was considering using the bed of nails. It’s certainly impressive, but I think we may not have enough room or time on the day.

It’s pretty cool though. And the nice thing about it is that the more nails you have on it per unit area, the more dangerous it looks but the safer it actually is (from Pressure = Force / Area).

Then all you need to add is another bed on top, and on top of this a cavity block.

Then smash the block with a sledge-hammer (this to demonstrate the property of inertia).

Then add more beds!

More teaching ideas from teachers tv

My friend Dee Maguire reminded me recently of some very useful videos on teachers tv of physics teacher David Robinson in action. Some of these are also on youtube:

The magnetic gun is also referred to as a ‘Gaussian gun’.
We had a bit of fun puting a basic one together at the end of class the other day.



Other video clips of David demonstrating can be found here on teachers tv; the radioactivity clip is particularly impressive.

You can also enter his name into the youtube seachbox for other demonstrations.

Thanks Dee