Skip to 0 minutes and 0 secondsTOM LYONS: Hello, and welcome to the Q&A session for this online course teaching practical science, physics. We're going to run through a few of your questions that came up on the course. And Adam is going to start off with a question from Richard, I think.

Skip to 0 minutes and 14 secondsADAM LITTLE: Yes, the first question that did come from Richard was just talking about how precise should we be with the language we use. And in his example, he gave potential difference. And I think it's key that we use the key language in science. And potential difference is a good one because obviously there's everyday language where people use voltage and the terms electricity interchangeably. And it does lead to quite a few misconceptions. Research has shown, like we mentioned in the course, that by starting with potential difference and letting students know, you may have heard of this term as voltage.

Skip to 0 minutes and 53 secondsBut by starting with potential difference, where students tend to get this and current confused, if you start with the potential difference, they tend to understand what that means, and that it's the energy provided in the circuit and just basically pushing that home really.

Skip to 1 minute and 13 secondsTOM LYONS: Yeah, I think it's important that you're not afraid to use all the different terms that are around. And some of them are used interchangeably, so let students know that that does happen. But get them familiar with the ones that are most likely to come up, the ones that are going to be examined and also get them to think about how those words relate to the unit. So how do we measure potential difference? What do we measure current in? And that kind of stuff and get them really familiar with that and using it in answers to you in class and that kind of thing so that they just become more and more familiar.

Skip to 1 minute and 50 secondsSo next we have a question from Jose about teachers working collaboratively. And obviously, this is very important and is key to professional development. We've noticed a lot of collaborative work on this online course, which has been really great to see. And you shouldn't feel like you have to keep that to yourself. Share any CPD that you do within your department, within your school. And also, draw on the knowledge that you have with your colleagues. Some people have backgrounds where they've done certain occupations, that kind of thing, where they might be more informed about some parts of the subject. So make sure you share that knowledge and spend some time talking to each other.

Skip to 2 minutes and 32 secondsYeah, and I think collaboration is really mushrooming at the moment. When you go on things like social media, you're seeing teachers suggesting ideas to each other. And there's a lot less of people keeping it to themselves and people wanting to just share good ideas and get them out so students have the best impact-- well, it has the best impact on the students' learning.

Skip to 2 minutes and 54 secondsAnd I know, for example, as well, that we're developing courses, and we run courses here at STEM Learning as well, such as maths and science, where we get the head of maths and the head of science to come together and talk about when they teach things, what's the best way to get the biggest impact out of the curriculum and also where there are things and issues where they might be at loggerheads with each other, where maths say a line of best fit can't be curved and various other things.

Skip to 3 minutes and 22 secondsSo being able to be aware of what all the departments are doing and where you can bring in skills from science that could be used in geography, for example, with issues like climate change. The next one we have is from Carlos who's talking about issues that we're facing both nationally in the UK and internationally, by the sounds of it, where there's more and more non-specialists being made to teach outside their specialism, especially in science and physics, even more so. What's great is seeing how many people that have engaged in this course that are non-specialists and saying how much it's helped develop them and improve that knowledge, which can only improve the outcomes of the students.

Skip to 4 minutes and 7 secondsThere are also other courses we deal with face-to-face, physics for non-specialists, biology for non-specialists, which we highly recommend coming on being able to improve your skillset and getting the best out of your students at the end of the day. Yeah, and if you do feel like that within your department or within your school that there are some teachers that need upskilling, that maybe their subject knowledge is not as good as it could be, or there's other skills that you feel that you can take the lead and show them these are the things available to you. Shall we sit down and have a chat about various things? And take the lead in that.

Skip to 4 minutes and 48 secondsThe number of resources-- I was going to mention resources-- the number of resources we have on the website, there's a plethora of them. But it is worth knowing that there's specific lists that we brought together, pages that we brought together that are for physics for different stages within schools. So you've got from lower secondary up to post-16 age groups. And you can look at all of those resources online and choose the ones that you feel will support you and your teaching.

Skip to 5 minutes and 18 secondsADAM LITTLE: All that's left really is to say thank you once again for coming on this course, engaging with it. It's been great to see all the comments people have been making. And like we've mentioned previously about all that collaboration that's been going on, we hope you found it useful, and we look forward to seeing you in the future.

Skip to 5 minutes and 36 secondsTOM LYONS: Yeah, thanks very much. And hopefully, we can see some of your colleagues on the next course that's coming up. The next run, we've got in late autumn so really looking forward to seeing more people there.

Q&A with Adam and Tom

The Q&A sessions on courses from the National STEM Learning Centre provide you with the opportunity to ask more about the course content and issues from your own classroom practice.

Adam and Tom recorded their answers to a selection of your questions and we uploaded the video on 23 May. A transcript is currently being processed.


  • Teaching the language of physics
  • Collaborating with colleagues
  • Leading colleagues with CPD

Follow up

Don’t worry if you missed out on the Q&A. We will be running this course again in November, with another opportunity for you and your colleagues to ask Adam and Tom your questions.

One of the points raised by Tom and Adam was participating in professional development together. This includes across your school, and some examples include our residential CPD for both science and maths teachers:

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This video is from the free online course:

Teaching Practical Science: Physics

National STEM Learning Centre