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This content is taken from the National STEM Learning Centre's online course, Teaching Practical Science: Physics. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 4 seconds This week we’ll be looking at how to build progression into your practical work with the focus being on the topic of waves. This is an area of physics that students can struggle with so slowly build them up to the more abstract themes, by developing their understanding through practical. We will look at how starting with basic approaches you can ensure students have a good grounding in the area that you are teaching. We will look at how you can link different areas of physics together to show students the bigger picture such as how using equations of motion in the waves topic is applicable.

Skip to 0 minutes and 37 seconds As this week progresses we want you to think about what order you would teach some of the waves practical work we share, then how you can adapt that for other topics that you will be teaching in the future. With students now expected to have a deeper understanding of what they have covered, it is vital they are able to see how we can derive equations, using terms like frequency and wavelength. It’s also important they can see when to use these in unfamiliar contexts, so by building progression into practical work they can build up the skills needed to do this.

Skip to 1 minute and 11 seconds By the end of this week you should have developed a confidence in building progression into practical work and looking at how you can transfer this to other topics that you are teaching.

Waves and progression

Last week we looked at how we can incorporate context into our practical lessons, using the topic of radioactivity as a guide. This week we will be looking at how to build progression into practical lessons and how we link practical work together so students can see how their learning fits together. Although we are using the topic of waves for our examples, this is something that can be applied across all topics and science in general.

We will also be looking at how students can see the bigger picture of what they are learning. For example, we look at wave speed in this topic, but speed also applies within the motion topic and students will need the same understanding to be able to make the calculations within both. With the mathematical demand being significant in physics, showing students these links can boost their confidence, understanding and allow them to make progress within the subject.

By the end of this week you should have more confidence in:

  • building progression into an individual lesson or a succession of practical lessons.
  • linking practical skills across a variety of topics.
  • using a variety of practical methods to teach the topic of waves.

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This video is from the free online course:

Teaching Practical Science: Physics

National STEM Learning Centre