A practical challenge update and my jelly baby wave machine

A little update to my practical challenge. I’ve been trying to introduce a new practical to one of my lessons at least once a week. It’s been going very well. I’ve been dedicating one of my frees every week to putting practical orders in/speaking to the physics technician (unavailable before and after school due to part time hours) and generally planning where I can fit in new, appropriate class practicals and demos. A marvellous resource of videos explaining how to carry out lots of demos is here. It’s the National STEM Centre archive of practical physics demos. Massively useful, especially if you are mostly teaching yourself how to do these things.

I feel like I should add in here that I already do lots of practical work with my classes. 🙂 I wonder if I come across like I don’t do any? Well, I do, it’s just that I shy away from new (to me) things that I don’t already have experience with. Partly time, partly lack of experienced teachers with the time to go through practicals after school, partly no time to share good practice within school time (a huge mistake, in my opinion).

This week I’m introducing the waves topic to year 12. A good opportunity to build my first jelly baby wave machine. Why do this? well, mainly because it’s a bit fun and quite impressive with very low key materials needed. It demonstrates the properties of transverse waves.

We needed duct tape, wooden kebab skewers, jelly babies and something to hang the whole thing from at either end.

wave machine ingredients

I got the class to do most of the building and it was great. It also only took about 15 mins to build. Here’s what we came up with:

It looked even better when I got it all still before starting a wave.

jellybaby wave machine pic


Wave machine success!

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