CPD taster - Inspiring A level physics

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This is a CPD taster created to give teachers a better understanding of what to expect when joining one of our secondary science courses. Below you will find a video and a task for you to do in your own time. Once you have done the activity, book on to Inspiring A level physics (NY502).


Are you an experienced A level physics teacher with a few years under your belt?  You know the theory, but want to develop your teaching so students know more about the cutting edge work that is going on in physics? In this video Adam Little, professional development lead for physics, discusses how subject knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge are both crucial ingredients in developing your teaching and your students’ learning.

Task: Developing exploratory activities

In this short task, we ask you to take a look at how you can develop exploratory approaches using a common practical activity for diffraction. This involves using a laser and a diffraction rating to work out the wavelength of the laser.

Instead of just calculating the wavelength of the laser, what would be more beneficial is to see if the students can apply their understanding of diffraction to find the separation between something that is unknown, which enables them to take more ownership over their learning and develop their practical skills.  The following task will allow you to consider this, and apply it to your teaching.

Our Quantum Technology resource on Diffraction includes a practical task to allow students to use the diffraction equation to determine the slit separation d for an unknown diffraction grating. Extension investigations involve finding the separation between dots on a new bank note and the distance between the barbs in a feather. The resource contains a teacher guide as well as a presentation you can use in your lesson to get students to understand why they are learning about this, and to provide a different context it can be used in.

Task instructions

  1. Download the Teacher guide from the Quantum Technology Resource: Diffraction.
  2. Read the background information which provides the real-world context for this activity.
  3. Download the Teacher presentation from the Quantum Technology Resource: Diffraction which contains details of the practical activity. Slide 14 onwards provides the exploratory task.
  4. Compare how the practical task described complements or extends what you currently do with your students.
  5. Note your thoughts about this activity, identifying at least one strength and one weakness of this approach.

Next steps

In the summary video, Adam explains what else you can expect from attending the Inspiring A level course and how we can support you further.

Book your place on Inspiring A level physics (NY502).

Show health and safety information

Please be aware that resources have been published on the website in the form that they were originally supplied. This means that procedures reflect general practice and standards applicable at the time resources were produced and cannot be assumed to be acceptable today. Website users are fully responsible for ensuring that any activity, including practical work, which they carry out is in accordance with current regulations related to health and safety and that an appropriate risk assessment has been carried out.

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