Peter Fairhurst

Peter Fairhurst

Curriculum Specialist in Science Education (Physics), University of York.

Location York


  • It would be interesting to hear a little more about what you did.

  • Do you think it is important for teachers to be experts in some/all of the subjects students are working with in interdisciplinary teaching? Are there any benefits, to the students, in teachers not being expert?

  • Do you think interdisciplinary teaching can support the development of any skills and competencies that help students to study more effectively and to achieve better grades in their exams? And if yes, what skills and competencies would be helpful?

  • Are these project coordinated or left to individual tutors to plan?

  • How do you think learning alongside your students might change the learning dynamic? And could this be helpful?

  • Welcome to the course Nermeen, I hope you find it useful.

  • We are going to be exploring strategies for teaching and planning lessons, especially in week 3 of the course, that those training as teachers are likely to find useful. And there is a certificate at the end of the course if you are a FutureLearn subscriber.

  • This worked really well in our pilot school.

  • Welcome to the course Gemma

  • Welcome Sarah - I hope you find lots of useful ideas and resources throughout the course.

  • In the pilot school, *all* the students taking part referred back to the skills they had developed during the project in their university applications.

  • Welcome to the course - hopefully the teaching unit: Art conservation in Pompeii and Herculanium will be of particular interest - you will be able to download this from the link in week 3.

  • Later on, we will be thinking about how this can work in 'real schools'.

  • Hi Alison, I hope you find the course useful. There will be links to teaching units to use in week 3.

  • Welcome - it will be interesting to see how the interdisciplinary nature of the course fits with your experience working as an engineer.

  • I think the children’s Guided discussions about the ideas are the real key to Developing understanding. I also hang a ping-pong ball on a thread and place the tuning fork against one side - the result is pretty impressive. @SharonGraham

  • There is no sound underwater.

  • 'Dark' fills the room when there is no light.

  • Light is radiation that can be detected when it enters our eyes.

  • Peter Fairhurst made a comment

    For science topics where there is a lot of factual material I often start the lesson with an ‘information race’. Students have a textbook and work in twos or threes. I set on question and students have to find the answer, write a clear answer and bring it to get checked. If it is correct they get the next question and add the answer to their sheet. If it needs...

  • I had a student who would never participate and who needed to be coerced into completing any task. One lesson he called out an unexpected answer to a question and I asked him to elaborate. I had by chance asked him about an example in his life that tied in with the science we were studying. He came alive and the class were attentive to what he had to say. In...

  • I can’t tell from this report how the mastery approach varied from the approaches the schools took before its introduction, and indeed how successful the students in these schools were in the past. Presumably schools with already excellent results are likely to be using a range of strategies that accelerate student learning without the mastery approach. I...

  • Engagement is actively getting involve in an activity; building knowledge is learning new facts or making connections that help to understand new ideas; consolidating is using new facts or ideas in a useful way - rehearsal, or testing their usefulness

  • Hi Francesca, I am currently working on a project translating academic research into classroom resources. If you are interested have a look at - Peter@FrancescaOoi

  • Hi, I taught science 11-19, specialising in Physics, and currently work In curriculum development.
    For me learning is the process of processing and internalising ideas so in novel situations you can use them to create new understanding or to find solutions to problems.

  • I now have a model in my mind of the universe's expansion accelerating because of the Casimir effect. My understanding of this effect is that the metal plates attract because of fewer virtual particles popping into existence between the plates than outside of the plates. Transposing this to the universe I then see more virtual particles inside the universe...

  • This figure comes from measurements of the red shift of galaxies. We can measure the distance to some galaxies by, e.g., measuring the brightness of a particular kind of exploding star - the further away the galaxy is the dimmer this looks. The redshift measurement tells us how fast the same galaxies are moving away from us. Edwin Hubble plotted the two and...

  • Another good video about the structure of the universe can be found on YouTube called 'powers of 10'. It dates from the 1970s, but adds a commentary to the video recommended in the course.

  • When a fast car goes past you the sound of its engine suddenly changes to a lower note as it moves away. This is because the sound waves have been 'stretched'. Each time a new sound wave is given off the car is a little further away. This makes each wave a little longer than before. A longer sound wave has a lower note. The same is true for light - but we...

  • The 'Big Bang' was a phrase used by the astronomer Fred Hoyle to try to make the idea seem rediculous. At the time when this idea was gaining traction, Hoyle remained more convinced that the universe was in a steady state and that it did not have a 'beginning'. The name stuck, which often leads those not familiar with the ideas to imagine that the universe...

  • 1, 8 and 9. Physics is riddled with misconceptions and ideas that appear to conflict with students' everyday experiences - such as the fact that no force is needed to keep something moving. To embed deep understanding I believe you need to expose and challenge these ideas in order to rebuild a better scientific model.