The Department is headed by Mr Hypher who started teaching at Oxford High School in 2006 after 16 years at various schools in Canada and England. His love of physics extends well into his hobbies, the most prominent of which is motor racing in Formula 4. The legendary toy collection in the OHS Physics Department is on the increase with some exciting new acquisitions.
Mrs Coulton joined the Department in 2003 after a variety of teaching posts and following 12 years at Central Newcastle High School. She feels continually refreshed by teaching each new generation with their wealth of new ideas.
We are supported by our technician, Mr Barlow, whose job extends beyond the day to day looking after our apparatus to realising novel equipment and demonstrations produced to very high standards. We approach teaching as a team exercise with great sharing of ideas and resources.
Mr. Colin Barlow joined the department in 1997 after 22 years working for the Atomic Energy Authority in Engineering Design. Colin has a link with OHS having worked from 1969 to 1974 in the original High School building, 21 Banbury Road, when it was the department of Nuclear Physics. His interests include any form of motor sport, vintage motorcycles the English long bow and his film collection. Colin also runs the School’s AV Department and is Electrical Safety Officer.
Facilities and resources
We have two laboratories, one of which has recently been refurbished; both are well equipped with computer projectors, video players and, of course, computers with programs that are continually being updated. We believe in using a whole range of devices to illustrate the concepts in Physics and our range of equipment varies from our toys through to sophisticated data logging and video capture. As well as the four PCs we also have six lap top computers to enable all girls to gain increasing experience of data logging and analysis as they go through the school.
The Physics Department has taken delivery of the wind tunnel and structures testing rig funded by Wolfson foundation. The wind tunnel arrived more-or-less completely assembled and is now proudly on the side bench in Physics 1. The structures testing rig came in 14 very large boxes and has been carefully unpacked by the Engineering Club. Through the summer I shall be completing assembly and working my way through the several instruction manuals so that both pieces of equipment will be up-and-running in time for the start of term in September. The students will be able to get experience of very sophisticated data logging equipment not normally found in secondary school laboratories. With the wind tunnel we will be able to demonstrate some very important physical principles using special accessories such as the venturi cross-section and pressure-plot aerofoil.
Custom-built test sections can be mounted on force and pressure sensors to study their characteristics.
The structures testing rig allows one to conduct the ultimate bridge-building contest; beams, trusses and arches can be built and tested. Whole structures can be computer simulated.
Watch this space for exciting projects in the new term!
Physics is taught as a separate subject by our specialist teachers from Year 9. All girls follow this course until Year 11 as part of the new AQA Certificate (iGCSE) Physics course.
We aim to give all girls an idea of the excitement in the search for fundamental laws and a good grounding in the methodology of Physics enabling them to take the subject further. We feel it is very important that all girls should have the knowledge and confidence to appreciate the scientific background of many of the issues that challenge our society so that they will be in a position to make informed decisions. There is a great deal of enrichment material included to stretch and challenge. The course is designed to provide superior preparation for A-level work, enabling girls to not only bridge the gap between A-level and GCSE but also pave the way for a more sophisticated treatment of many topics at A-level.
In the Sixth form we follow the AQA Physics B “Physics in Context” Specification which can be taken to AS or A2 level. We have chosen to do the practical examination as part of their assessment as we feel that girls learn the fundamentals of experimental work most efficiently. Our girls choose Physics for a variety of reasons: some so they can continue the subject at University, some because they are interested in Engineering but many to broaden their experiences. It is not essential to study mathematics to A-level to benefit from the course.
Extra-Curriculum Activities and Achievements
We aim to make the best use of local facilities at the University and local Research Establishments with visits, speakers and “Master Classes”. Many take advantage of the Headstart program which gives students an excellent hands-on introduction to science, engineering and technology at leading universities.
GDST Guinness Book of World Records Science Practical
On Tuesday 13th November, 28 OHS girls took part in a huge science experiment involving over 2,000 students from the 26 GDST schools across the country as part of the GDST’s 140th anniversary celebrations.
The ever accurate and reliable (and amazing!) 7S measured acceleration due to gravity in their bid to help set the record for the world’s biggest practical science lesson in multiple venues.
They swung pendulums masquerading as yo-yos and dropped bean bags from the upper floor of our brilliant new library. Data was collected, entered onto spreadsheets and saved, and the whole process was kindly overseen by Dr. Amy Webber and Eleanor Grieveson from the Oxford University Department of Physics.
Our day ended with Davina Kourdi and Joana Baptista giving a splendid interview on BBC Radio Oxford’s DriveLive. Physics was never so much fun, and with luck, 7S will be part of GDST science history!
Year 8 Connected Curriculum D-Day
I am speaking to you from S3 in the maths block. This morning Mr Nicholl handed Year 8 the final note stating that unless he heard from them by registration this morning, that they were prepared at once to join him in his code breaking quest, a state of war would exist between the houses. I have to tell you now that no such undertaking was received and that consequently this year group is at war.
Tension was high as Year 8 battled ferociously with encryptions. Houses clashed as rivals attempted to gain entrance to our secret lairs where mathematicians worked furiously, solving complicated Python problems. We plotted and planned and double bluffed, reliving the dilemmas that Britain would have faced when deciding where to invade occupied France. We endeavoured to produce fully functioning radios, with some people claiming to have succeeded in hearing Hitler’s broadcasts…
As D-Day loomed, we furiously crammed our brains with the knowledge we would need for the ultimate test. The test of all the skills we had amassed on this intensive training course. We could almost hear the bombs ringing out as we tramped back inside, our brains aching. Our suffering was insignificant in comparison to what the Allies would have endured when crossing the channel, knowing full well that they might never return.
Line upon line of soldiers dressed in real RAF suits, headscarves and bomber jackets marched proudly into the Lecture theatre for a speech from our General, Chris. He was very impressed with our war efforts and told us all about what it’s like to be more involved in code breaking at a higher level of expertise.
We fought valiantly and were victorious, a state of peace has now returned to Year 8. Never was so much owed by so many to so few, so thank you to all the teachers involved for making it such a memorable day!
“Physics in Action”
“Physics in Action” trip to University of London Institute of Education on Thursday November 25, 2010 was full of action indeed!
The Y13 and Y12 Physicists witnessed some very dramatic and entertaining demonstrations in a series of lectures presented by experts working at the frontiers of science. The students found out exciting things about the Sun in 3-D, were amazed by giant smoke rings, were enthralled by flaming music and more!
After the final laser light show in the lecture hall we had bracing walk across the West End to Covent Garden and then pizza. We made full use of the underground and surface rail network with an exciting rush hour journey through Central London and back home to Oxford. A good time was had by all.
Year 11 go (model) Flying!
Year 11 Physics had a great time testing rubber band-powered model airplanes this month.
As part of a unit on the physics of flight the girls in Mr Hypher’s classes took pioneering steps in various activities including wind tunnel studies of pressure distribution, lift and drag on a aerofoil. A flight-testing exercise of the rubber band models on the Sports Field yielded some astonishing free-flights. These included several of more than 10 seconds duration and 50 m range. One group even managed to get the Cessna model to take off from its wheels on the tennis court, fly to nearly the other end of the four courts and land safely! The radio-controlled electric-powered Super Cub is an exciting procurement of the Physics Department and has been seen in the skies of OHS performing flight training manoeuvres in preparation for flying demonstrations in the near future for all of Y11. Mrs Coulton’s classes are now working through the unit.
Engineering Club Aeronautics
The Engineering Club have begun working with rubber band-powered models and will be modifying them into multi-engined types in the hope of increasing their range and load-carrying ability. The recent acquisition of the electric-powered Super Cub will mean that there is the possibility of club members learning to fly it (under controlled and safe conditions) in the future. With Chief Pilot Mr Hypher at the controls the girls will be getting in-flight footage with a tiny camera as well as aerial drops!