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Physics

“Physics is really nothing more than a search for ultimate simplicity, but so far all we have is a kind of elegant messiness.”

Bill Bryson

Aims & Philosophy

From the moment you are born, and throughout your life, you are surrounded by Science – the air you breathe, the food you eat and the clothes you wear – they’re all Science. Whether you want to care for penguin colonies in Antarctica or work in a dynamic business environment, Science can help you. From research in space, to the depths of the oceans, Science helps you understand the world around you and opens up lots of career opportunities. Science students are highly valued for their numerical, linguistic and analytical skills.

 

GCSE Science (AQA)

Every student at Heathfield School is required to take Science. Students start to cover the GCSE content in the Third Form allowing those more able to access three separate Science GCSEs.

All students in the top science set are entered for the three separate science GCSEs. This involves them taking all 3 written units for each of the sciences at the end of their 5th Form year.

Students not taking the three separate Sciences will take Combined Science which covers Biology, Chemistry and Physics through a series of six different written examinations each worth. Students then gain a numerical grade from a 17 point scale from 1-1 to 9-9.

For all of the Science GCSEs students will have to complete compulsory experiments and their practical skills and techniques will be examined in the written examinations.

All students irrelevant of which route they have followed are able to go onto study science at A level providing they attain sufficiently good grades at GCSE.

 

A Level (AQA Physics A)

Physics A level is a valuable post-16 subject which clearly demonstrates that a student has the following attributes :

  • Logical thought
  • Problem solving
  • Key practical skills
  • Numeracy
  • An understanding about the world around us from sub-atomic, through everyday to galactic proportions
  • A solid appreciation of “How Science Works” and the way that existing scientific theories are replaced when new evidence is available

Importantly, these are transferable skills and equip the student for further study, employment and also for understanding the changing world in which we live.

Physics opens the door to many rewarding and respected careers, and is not limited to the obvious fields of Science and Engineering. The skills acquired by Physics students are sought after in every field where logical thought and problem solving  are required. Here is a small selection of careers available to students who study Physics :

  • Electronics, Communications Space and Avionics
  • Law, accountancy and Finance
  • Medicine and veterinary Science
  • Environment, Architecture and Civil Engineering
  • Transport and Mechanical Engineering
  • IT, Media, Sound and Vision Technology
  • Education
  • Sports Science and  Biomechanics

 

What Does the Course Involve?

Students study 8 core units (1-8) for A level over the 2 year course. In addition they study one of the optional units (units 9-13).

  • Core
    • Unit 1: Measurements and their errors
    • Unit 2: Particles and radiation
    • Unit 3: Waves
    • Unit 4: Mechanics and materials
    • Unit 5: Electricity
    • Unit 6: Further mechanics and thermal physics
    • Unit 7: Fields and their consequences
    • Unit 8: Nuclear physics
  • Optional
    • Unit 9: Astrophysics
    • Unit 10: Medical physics
    • Unit 11: Engineering physics
    • Unit 12: Turning points in physics
    • Unit 13: Electronics

 

Beyond the Classroom

Extracurricular science activities form an integral part of the Heathfield experience. A wide variety of different activities and learning experiences takes place outside of the classroom.

For one week each year we celebrate Science Week and activities are run each day during lunch. Activities have included an Interhouse rocket building and launching competition in Assembly, the creation of ice cream using liquid nitrogen, and chip pan fires singeing the ceiling.

Other events have included the annual Third Form CSI Heathfield forensics investigation which investigates a live ‘murder’. This year it was the Director of Studies, who dramatically collapsed during lunch.

As a department we enter a number of competitions each year including The Salters’ Chemistry Competition for four members of the Second Form; this takes place at one of the universities around the country and provides students with an insight into science in the workplace, and the Biology Challenge set by the Institute of Biology for 3rd and 4th Formers .

Other opportunities to use Science come about as part of the weekend activities such as trips to Science museums and the production of beauty products including as make-up and soap. Alternatively there is a Science Club with a variety of activities including the Chemistry of Fireworks and Rockets, Dissection and Robotics. Girls in Forms I-III are also encouraged to participate in the CREST Awards. They have to plan and carry out their own research and produce a written report of their findings. Topics covered last year included properties of different types of chocolate and finding the best formulation for a bath bomb.