How to make physics real and more relevant

11th January 2008 at 00:00

Physics teacher Jamie McHugh has secured work experience opportunities for his pupils after his own brief stint in the energy sector.

The 33-year-old Turriff Academy teacher did a short work placement in the subsea oil and gas industry and highly recommends the experience to other teachers.

"One of the jobs I saw, for example, was an engineer designing a crane arm to go onto the back of a ship to lay cables underwater. The engineer's job was to calculate the stresses involved," he says.

He was taking part in a project designed to tackle the shortage of engineers in the energy sector by enabling teachers to promote it more effectively to pupils. But he says there's no way he would abandon his own career for a more lucrative job in the booming oil industry. "I love my job. I am in a happy place," says Mr McHugh, who took part in the Careers Scotland initiative at Aberdeen-based firm Prospect.

Further placements will be on offer as part of the Excellence in Education through Business Links initiative overseen by Subsea UK. Mr McHugh says it allowed him to see the career progression opportunities in the industry for non-graduates as well as graduates.

The placement led to work experience for some of his pupils, he says: "It was a worthwhile experience and anybody who can get involved in industries should take the opportunity, as long as it's viable within school.

"What I learned about Prospect was not just the engineering and the physics sides, but their work ethos was eye-opening. It's not bogged down in bureaucracy and the doors are always open to anyone who has an idea or questions. It's good for pupils to get an experience of that," he says.

"Taking physics out of the textbook and classroom and into real life is part of my job and my experience has allowed me to bring physics to the pupils and make it more interesting and relevant."

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