Physics is the study of everything, from the very large to the very small. At St. Mary’s College, Crosby, we investigate the forces that bind atoms, keep the earth in orbit around the Sun and make your hair stand on end. If you’ve ever wondered why satellites don’t fall out of the sky, or how heavy a dinosaur can get, then Physics probably has the answer. Our philosophy is to develop the curiosity about our universe that all children have and to help them develop ways of expressing it, initially in words but increasingly using mathematics – and without ever losing that sense of wonder.
The aim of the Physics Department is to ensure that every pupil has the chance to explore a range of Physics topics and techniques, delivered in a way that suits the learner and challenges them to move forward. This is achieved through a mixture of teaching and learning activities, including (but not limited to) research and presentations, problem-solving using up-to-the-minute case-studies, extensive practical work and demonstrations and, of course, traditional teaching and learning. Regular assessment and feedback ensures pupils know how they are progressing at all times and what they can do to improve.
Key Stage 3
We will study Energy, Electricity, Forces and Space in Year 7, Pupils will investigate solutions to our dwindling energy supplies and report on the weather on other planets. They will also discover why a rubber duck floats! In Year 8, we explore Sound and Hearing, Heating and Cooling and Magnetism, designing a set of ear defenders and a cup to keep drinks hot (or cold!) at a festival. Key topics in Year 9 are Light, Pressure and Moments and a deeper look at Gravity and Space as we begin to consider the force that holds the universe together.
All pupils follow the AQA GCSE course. The majority opt for Separate GCSE Physics, but we also offer GCSE Science and Additional Science for those who would prefer to keep their options open for a little longer. The GCSE builds on the topics studied at Key Stage 3 and revisits them in greater depth. We also begin the study of radioactivity, exploring why some atoms decay, the dangers to humans and the environment and how the processed can be harnessed for electricity generation. Approximately 90% of pupils typically achieve grades A*-C in Physics with several scoring full marks on individual papers each year.
Once again, pupils follow the AQA course, which enables us to study the popular Astrophysics option in the Upper Sixth. Lessons are a mixture of discussion, problem-solving and practical work, with an increased focus on helping pupils to manage their own learning in preparation for university. Topics studied include the structure of materials, superconductivity, matter, antimatter and quarks and the origin and possible future of the universe, as well as deeper investigation of familiar areas such as electricity ad forces. Most pupils achieve A*-B at A level and a significant proportion chooses to study physics-related subjects, including medicine or engineering, at university.
Beyond the classroom
As well as weekly drop-in sessions, which can be used for help and support with classwork, or just to discuss aspects of Physics, we have a library of popular Physics books in E11 which pupils are welcome to borrow. Recent trips have included a visit to CERN to see the Large Hadron Collider and a visit to Liverpool University’s Engineering Department and visitors this year have included Airbus, giving a talk on life as an avionics engineer and the careers opportunities available. Sixth Form pupils also compete in the annual Physics Olympics at Liverpool University and we run trips to events of scientific interest such as Science Live! or MOSI in Manchester.