As Sir Arthur Eddington said in a Stars and Atom lecture in 1928 "I ask you to look both ways. For the road to a knowledge of the stars leads through the atom; and important knowledge of the atom has been reached through the stars." In the physics department we encourage pupils to be inquisitive, developing their skills of investigation through the processes of research, experimentation and analysis. Pupils develop a love for learning and discovery that allows them not only to cover the curriculum but also to extend their interests beyond the specified topics and learn about ideas and areas that they enthuse about; often this results in a pupil-led lecture evening.
Enthusiastic teachers who have a passion for the subject, working in modern, well-equipped and comfortable laboratories, help instil an understanding and way of thinking that enables pupils to appreciate that what they see is not always as it seems!
We enter interested pupils in the British Physics Olympiad in the Michaelmas Term, and the Physics Challenge paper in the Lent Term: past pupils have been selected for the Senior Physics Challenge at Cambridge University, and younger pupils visit @Bristol and experience a visiting planetarium! Our new telescope, very kindly donated to the department by OAs, has helped older pupils to develop their passion for astronomy.
Guest speakers are invited to talk to our pupils as part of the Science Society lecture series; previous visitors have included Dr Mark Lewney 'Guitar Physicist', Dr Christine Sutton who has worked at CERN and University of Oxford Physics department, Tim Naylor (Norman Lockyer Professor of Astrophysics and Head of the School of Physics at the University of Exeter), and Diane Aston from the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining spoke about 'Smart materials, Composites and Communication Materials', and OA Guy Morris brought the 'Ever Wondered Why?' road show to King's and enthralled our Third Form pupils.
Every year a number of Sixth Form pupils are invited to participate in an inspirational visit to CERN in Geneva. Pupils are able to visit the United Nations Headquarters as well as seeing first hand the ground breaking research facility for particle physics. We have also taken pupils from the Sixth Form on a guided tour of the Diamond Light Source at Didcot, Oxford and to the Medical Physics department of our local hospital.
A number of journals such as Materials World, Physics World, Catalyst, Physics Review and New Scientist are all available within the department and supplement books that we hold in our own departmental library. Reading is an essential skill that we encourage all pupils to nurture, in order to support and extend their knowledge of the subject.
When you play sport and decide how fast you need to run and in which direction you need to go, you are applying some of the basic laws of physics! How do you catch a cricket ball so that it does not hurt your hand? Do you ever stop to ask "I wonder why"? If you have then physics is for you!