Physics is about you

Perspectives for 14-16 TEACHER COMMUNITY

Back to my classroom.

I try to give my students opportunities to learn about some of the wonderful characters who have contributed to our knowledge of physics. I also share examples of a range of careers in physics and using physics, so they can see where studying physics can lead them.

But physics isn’t only useful for future physicists. Those of us who want to do DIY or be carpenters need to understand forces and how materials behave under stress. If you want to be a beautician you ought to understand UV radiation. And if you want to be a business owner it helps to have a basic understanding of safety around electricity. Everyone wants to know how to keep their home warm, how to understand their gas and electricity bills, and make the best choice out of the different tariffs available. When it comes to voting in elections, you need to understand the advantages and disadvantages of different renewable and non-renewable energy sources. You also want the politicians making decisions that affect you to have some understanding of physics to inform their policies.

Learning about space may not help with your job, but how do you feel looking up at the stars and Moon at night? Does it add meaning to your life to understand something of what you’re gazing at? Does it blow your mind to recognise a planet and be reminded that you too are on a planet, racing at 107,000 km/hr around the fiery inferno that is our Sun? To realise that most of your body is just empty space? That most of the atoms in your body were made in a supernova millions of years ago?

Physics has helped me in my life. Doing a physics degree means I now have a job that I find enjoyable, stimulating and meaningful — and because there aren’t enough physics teachers I have job security, which I do not take for granted. But more than that, studying physics has helped enrich my life by filling it with wonder, by helping me appreciate the workings of the technology I use, and making me marvel at the mind boggling complexity of the world we live in. I love physics. I couldn’t imagine being without it.

Submitted by Carole Kenrick

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