Practical new ideas
Physics is blossoming and ready for Curriculum 2000, thanks to these two ground-breaking courses. The Salters Horners Advanced Physics has been piloted successfully over the past two years and is now supported by a full colour student book and comprehensive teacher and technician resource pack. The Institute of Physics's Advancing Physics course has been piloted over the past year and has a range of back-up resources, three of which are reviewed here.
Both sets of materials are refreshing, exciting and useful in their different ways and should prove invaluable even for schools which are not following the courses. Each one is up-to-date, deals with physics in the real world and uses IT extensively. Both are comprehensive in their support for teachers and provide good reads for students.
The Salters Horners book takes interesting and original themes to develop a good fundamental grasp of physics with many new and stimulating practical ideas, activities and questions. The questions have full answers and the main learning objectives are clearly presented at the end of each main section with questions covering the whole section. For the AS there are two units covered in the book: Physics at Work, Rest and Play, with sections on higher, faster, stronger, technology in space and the sound of music; and Physics for Life with sections on digging up the past, "good enough to eat" and spare-part surgery. The physics is learnedin such a wide range of contexts that a real interest in the subject and its relation to the world is fostered.
The thorough resource pack provides extra practical and activity sheets for students, full notes for teachers and tests and mark schemes, and complete guidance on the practical activities for technicians.
The Advancing Physics resources are also innovative but with a different focus. The student book is a fascinating read with questions, learning outcomes and excellent explanations of the physics. It also approaches the basic physics from fresh modern angles that grip the reader and show the significance of the subject. There is constant reference to the CD-Rom and guidance to the student in terms of ways through each chapter. The teacher also has a comprehensive and sophisticated CD-Rom, which allows them to select activities, questions and resources for lesson planning.
For the AS there are two units covered in the book Physics in Action, which includes Communication: imaging, sensing and signalling; Designer Materials: testing materials and looking inside materials; Understanding Processes which includes waves and quantum behaviour; and Space and Time: mapping space and time and computing the next move. The Course Guide presents an overview of the Advancing Physics course, which explains how the resources can be best used as well as the structure and assessment of the course.
Both resources offer excellent supportive maths information and address key skills. There is reference to the sharing of ideas and support provided by the pilot centres and development groups, as well as the necessity to make these courses flexible and responsive to new ideas.
Each set of resources has great appeal and I would highly recommend them to all physics departments.
Becky Parker is head of science and head of physics at Simon Langton Girls' School, Canterbury, Kent