junior cert physics

Teaching Magnetism

I started Magnetism with First Years today. They seem to be an enthusiastic bunch but let’s face it; if you can’t make Magnetism fun then you’re just a crap teacher. Anyway, after giving them a pair of magnets they were sent off to come up with as many unprompted observations as they could. It worked very well and some of their observations included the following:

(i)    Sometimes magnets attract each other, sometimes they repel.
(ii)    Magnets attract some materials but not others.
(iii)    The only materials that they were attracted to magnets were metals.
(iv)    They were attracted to some metals but not others.
(v)    It was not possible to distinguish why it was attracted to these particular metals.
(vi)    The metals seem to be more attracted to the poles than to the middle.
(vii)    When one nail was hanging at the end, it in turn became a magnet and attracted other nails.
(viii)    When the first nail was removed from the magnet, the second nail quickly lost its magnetism.

On the basis of these observations they were given the following puzzler for bonus marks homework.

Given only a bar-magnet and another similar-looking non magnetic metal, how could you tell which one was magnetic?


Junior Cert Physics Resources


I have tended to neglect the Junior Cert end of thephysicsteacher.ie

Hopefully this has now been rectified. Or at any rate it’s a start.
The interactive links were there already but not easily accessable, and were all on one long page.
The section which took longest to prepare was the ‘Tips for Teachers’ section. Hopefully this will prove useful to Biology and Chemistry teachers, and any new teachers, particularly hdip and trainee teachers.
Being more organised may also encourage me to be a bit more adventurous with the investigative approach rather than just telling students what to do for each so-called ‘experiment’.

I had my own school in mind with our own resources, but tried to be as general as possible.
The links on top are as likely to take you  into a parallel universe as anywhere else, but that’s for another day.

I am particularly proud of the ‘Teachers’ Tips’ column; each section of the Junior Physics syllabus has been teased out seperately with comments which I hope prove useful. Having everything itemised like this means I can follow this guide as I teach them myself and alter sections as needs be. Perhaps others may even get involved and offer constructive criticism on sections which they approach differently.

As with all advice, it is more a work in progress than a finished product. I would like to include a set of equipment for each section which teachers could cross-check in advance, along with a suggested length of time for teaching each chapter and sub-topic.
Next up would be a set of higher-order questions and a variety of teaching approaches, with particular emphasis on Assessment for Learning.

Electricity in particular requires special attention. It is one of the most popular topics on the exam paper and I imagine one of the trickiest to teach for the non-specialist teacher.

But it’s a start.

Feel free to download them to your own pc and adapt them to suit your own school needs.