The Physics Department aims to make Physics an enjoyable subject for all those who study it, incorporating as much practical work at all levels and with as many unusual experiments as possible. A plethora of toys, popcorn, jellies on turntables, steam puddings and the invisible man have all made an appearance within a lesson!
Physics is housed in a purpose-built laboratory block with three labs (each with its own networked computers) and a preparation room. The building also contains an ICT suite.
The department has a very good stock of up to date apparatus including an electron diffraction tube, many oscilloscopes including a digital storage oscilloscope module, radioactivity apparatus, data logging equipment with accurate sensors and both a 90mm refracting telescope and an 6” reflecting telescope.
Pupils’ understanding and appreciation of the subject is extended through a multitude of activities which include annual lecture trips to UCL in London where pupils can hear about the latest ideas from those working in scientific research fields, visits to hands-on science centres such as Techniquest and At-Bristol and visits from university physicists discussing nano-particles, working with electron microscopes and building superconductors. Each year pupils are entered for the Physics Olympiad - a national and international competition – which gives gifted pupils the opportunity to stretch themselves beyond the curriculum. The department is also a member of the Norman Lockyer Observatory in Sidmouth and pupils make regular visits here to study meteorology and astronomy. Older pupils recently visited CERN in Switzerland to see the workings of one of the most cutting-edge pieces of scientific equipment, the Large Hadron Collider, located 100m below ground and learned about the Higgs boson particle.
Queen’s College was amongst the first to see the fragmentation of Comet 169P/Hergenrother using the Faulkes Telescope Education Project which provides schools with access to a global network of robotic telescopes. Queen’s College is now referenced in Remanzacco Observatory’s submissions to the minor planet centre and the work has been used by scientists across the world.
At Key Stage 3 all pupils study Physics as a separate subject. Aimed to encourage curiosity and to question why things happen, the younger years study forces, electricity and magnetism, light, machines, pressure, energy and electrical circuits. In Year 9, pupils begin the initial topics of the GCSE course. The syllabus has an emphasis on how science works which is taught through investigations undertaken throughout the year. In addition each year pupils learn a different aspect of astronomy such as the Earth, the Apollo and Voyager missions and the life of stars.
All pupils study Physics up to Year 11 and follow the AQA iGCSE Certificate. For those joining in Year 10, the work undertaken in Year 9 is revisited. Pupils can either obtain a GCSE in Physics or take the subject as part of the GCSE Science and Additional Science course. Topics covered include forces and motion, heat energy and kinetic theory, wave behaviour, properties of light, life and death of stars, the Big Bang theory, radioactivity, energy and momentum, electrical circuits and electromagnetism.
For those who are interested, there is also the availability to study GCSE Astronomy as an extra-curricular activity during Years 10 and 11.