Firewalking; a wonderful introduction to heat

I introduce Heat Capacity by asking the following question: How come, when you get up in the middle of the night to take a pee, and walk across both tile and carpet, the tile seems much colder than the carpet even though in reality both are at the same temperature (room temperature)? It introduces the concept of […]

Knowing the word for something and having an understanding of it are not the same thing

It ain’t what we don’t know that gives us trouble, it’s what we know that ain’t so.” Will Rogers  A common failing in all levels of science education is mistaking having a word for a phenomenon with having an understanding of it.   To take a very simple example, if I ask any of my […]

2016 ISTA Annual Conference

It’s interesting to note how much the ISTA (Irish Science Teachers’ Association) annual conference has changed over the years. It has always been a place where teachers could meet and share ideas but in more recent times there has been a noticeable change in focus and it now also acts as a showcase for research […]

Why should a teacher care about Mindsets?

This post acts as an introduction to the webpage betterteaching.ie/mindsets and is also the first link on that page. Why will this post help to make me be a better teacher in my classroom? Students of low academic ability often have a low opinion of themselves and believe that they will remain academically weak no […]

Everything a Primary School teacher (or student) needs to know about gravity. And then some.

This post is in the context of a question posed by a primary teacher on a forum recently. Rather than reply there I thought it safer to do so where I could offer a more comprehensive answer. We tend to associate the concept of gravity with the English scientist Isaac Newton who lived in the […]

Just so you know, nobody knows what energy is

The following acts as my introduction to the students’ notes on the Energy chapter. What is energy? Nobody knows what energy actually is and by pretending otherwise we actually do you the student a disservice. Not only are we ignoring the wonder associated with the idea, we are also denying you the opportunity to engage […]

My contribution to Science Week – I thought I might teach some physics

At 40 mins long it’s not going to go viral anytime soon. It’s the middle 40 minutes of a double class but in it we managed to learn about some of the following: The structure of the atom. We, and everything around us, are mostly empty space. We discovered that the appearance of  ‘solidness’ is […]