Teaching Pathways

How do you plan your pathway through the A Level physics course? 'Easy' topics first? Match it with the progression the students make through their maths course? Look at what fits into terms and half terms, or just by the order the content is laid out in the textbook?

With the emphasis on physics as a practical subject, the pathway can be planned around the introduction of practical skills. Often teachers will start the year with 'properties of materials' because the maths content is not terribly demanding, or will perhaps start with current electricity because the basic principles are familiar from GCSE. However the practicals involved with these topics can be demanding, especially with regard to analysing uncertainties.

The pathway suggested here (just year 12 so far) allows students to be introduced to new procedures for each new practical, building on what has gone before. As always there is room for adaptation and interestingly it is some AO's list of topics in reverse!

 Diffraction and standing wave practicals Using log books, instrumental uncertainties, percentage differences.
 Finding Plank's constant           Using log books, choosing multi-meter sensitivities, repeating readings to reduce random uncertainties and mistakes, controlling variables
 Internal resistance   Error bars, using gradients of best and worst fit.
 Resisitivity   Combining uncertainties, reducing the most significant source of uncertainty before others
 Free fall  Combining uncertainties, timing, parallax errors and using data loggers / light gates.
 Young's modulus Bring it all together (dare I suggest an assessment?)