Online course in Teaching

Teaching Practical Science: Physics

Participate in CPD to enhance your physics lessons with effective practical work for 14-16 year olds.

  • Duration 3 weeks
  • Weekly study 3 hours
  • Learn Free
  • Extra benefits From $69 Find out more

Help students understand physics through practicals

Physics can be a challenging topic for students, it is essential that they practice and embed their understanding of practical skills in preparation for assessment of their learning.

This course, specially designed for teachers, will allow you to discuss the relationship between theoretical physics concepts and practical work, challenging you to think about the classroom and what your students are learning through practical work. You will also develop creative ways of teaching practical physics with approaches that are applicable to a range of situations including GCSE required practicals.

Skip to 0 minutes and 3 seconds[Adam Little] From Galileo Galilei’s early use of the scientific method in the seventeenth century, through Faraday’s experiments with electromagnetism, up until the present day, with experiments such as the Large Hadron Collider at CERN practical experimental physics has been key to the development of the modern world and to our understanding of the universe. It is only through experimentation that scientists can test and validate theories. With exposure to practical work in school, the skills needed to advance the development of science and engineering, and first-hand appreciation of hands-on scientific enquiry, will be valuable assets that your students will take with them into their future careers.

Skip to 0 minutes and 50 seconds[Tom Lyons] The value of practical work is to enhance and deepen students’ understanding of the subject, by allowing them to relate theory to tangible experiences. [ADAM] Practical science, physics in the 14-16 classroom, will lead you through some key physics experiments that students can engage with in secondary schools. Each week will focus on a specific curriculum topic, coupled with a pedagogical theme to support your development as a science teacher. [Tom] Week 1 will take you through the topic of ionising radiation, with activities and discussions focussed on how we can bring context in to our practical science lessons. [Adam] Week 2 will cover the topic of waves, with the pedagogical focus on progression in practical science.

Skip to 1 minute and 32 seconds[Tom] Finally, week 3 will look at electricity, with discussions around how we can assess learning through practical work. [Adam] This course is one of three secondary practical science courses from STEM Learning, designed for both new and experienced teachers to enhance student learning through practical work. [Tom] As a participant on this course

Skip to 1 minute and 52 secondsyou will be able to: gain confidence in teaching and evaluating practical skills in physics; [Adam] share ideas on how to bring real world contexts to science lessons; plan for progression and assessment in practical work; [Tom] and collaborate with peers, educators and mentors to share and critique ideas for teaching practical science. [Adam] Join us online and shape the way practical science can make physics engaging in your classroom.

What topics will you cover?

  • Practical work for 14-16 year olds in the topics of radiation, waves and electric circuits.
  • Contextualising practical work in physics to the everyday environment.
  • How progression in practical work impacts on students’ learning.
  • Assessment of learning through practical work.
  • Approaches to teaching practical science that can be applied to other topic areas.

When would you like to start?

Most FutureLearn courses run multiple times. Every run of a course has a set start date but you can join it and work through it after it starts. Find out more

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you'll be able to...

  • Improve your confidence in delivering and evaluating teaching for practical skills in physics for 14-16 year olds.
  • Develop effective learning outcomes for practical work in physics.
  • Reflect on the effectiveness of practical activities on every students’ learning.
  • Design progression and assessment approaches within practical work in physics.
  • Collaborate with peers, educators and mentors to share and critique ideas for teaching practical science.

Who is the course for?

The course has been designed as CPD for teachers of science subjects for 14-16 year olds. Teachers of physics, early career teachers, returning teachers, non-specialist teachers, technicians and teaching assistants will gain from the peer learning and resources available on this course.

Learn from national CPD subject leaders, the experience of other teachers and access high quality supporting resources throughout this course.

What software or tools do you need?

Access to a laboratory is recommended in order for you to evaluate approaches to practical work during this course.

Who will you learn with?

Adam Little

Adam Little

Professional Development Leader: Physics at the National STEM Learning Centre in York. My background is a Head of Science and Assistant Leader of Teaching and Learning.

Tom Lyons

Tom Lyons

ESERO-UK Teacher Fellow, working for STEM Learning, York. Using the context of space to inspire STEM teaching and learning. Teacher of physics, satellite engineer, father of two.

Who developed the course?

The National STEM Learning Centre provides world-class professional development activities and resources to support the teaching of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects.

Join this course

Start this course for free, upgrade for extra benefits, or buy Unlimited to access this course and hundreds of other short courses for a year.


Join free and you will get:

  • Access to this course for 5 weeks


Upgrade this course and you will get:

  • Access to this course for as long as it’s on FutureLearn
  • A print and digital Certificate of Achievement once you’re eligible

Unlimited (New!)
$239 $179 for one year

Buy Unlimited and you will get:

  • Access to this course, and hundreds of other FutureLearn short courses and tests for a year
  • A printable digital Certificate of Achievement on all short courses once you’re eligible
  • The freedom to keep access to any course you've achieved a digital Certificate of Achievement on, for as long as the course exists on FutureLearn
  • The flexibility to complete your choice of short courses in your own time within the year
Find out more about upgrades or Unlimited.
Available until 31 October 2019. T&Cs apply.