Teaching Practical Science: Physics

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

10,255 enrolled on this course

Teaching Practical Science: Physics
The CPD Certification Service

This course has been certified by the CPD Certification Service as conforming to continuing professional development principles. 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 seconds you 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.


  • Week 1

    Everyday context for physics practicals

    • Developing your teaching with us

      We begin by asking 'why should we bother with practical work in physics?'

    • Bringing in context

      By the end of this week we want participants to be able to think of real world contexts for any practical and embed those into the explanations and learning through practical work.

    • Radioactivity practical work

      Examples of practical work with radiation

    • Learning with context

      Now you've looked at some examples, in this activity you'll incorporate context into an upcoming lesson.

  • Week 2

    Progression of learning through physics practical work

    • Progression of learning

      We begin by considering how we build progression into learning through practical work.

    • Planning progression in practical work

      In the next steps we will look at 4 practical lessons or demonstrations linked to waves that you can perform with your students.

    • Linking for learning

      We've looked at progression within a topic, now we need to consider linking to the bigger picture of science.

  • Week 3

    Assessment of learning through practical work

    • Changing barriers into learning opportunities

      In this final week we look at how we can develop problem solving skills with our students, along with building their resilience.

    • Problem solving with practical work

      Developing students problem solving skills and questioning them during practicals offers opportunities for formative assessment.

    • Assessment through practical work

      How can discussion and group practical work provide opportunities for formative assessment?

    • Reviewing your professional development

      Review your professional development and plan your next steps to sustain and develop the way you plan for learning.

Who is this accredited by?

The CPD Certification Service
The CPD Certification Service:

The CPD Certification Service was established in 1996 and is the leading independent CPD accreditation institution operating across industry sectors to complement the CPD policies of professional and academic bodies.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and learn at your own pace. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

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?

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.

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?

National STEM Learning Centre

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.

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