Physics Journal Club: What makes Science a Science?

Now that I’m working at a large sixth form college I wanted to try and set up an extra-curricular physics club. Taking advantage of having a pool of over 300 As and A2 students, compared to the 10 or so I had previously.

I have set up a lunchtime Physics Journal Club. The idea is that I will provide some stimulus material – an article, or a podcast – that everyone looks at before the meeting. I provide some questions to go with it to get them thinking about what we might talk about. We meet every two weeks so it’s not too much commitment and I have time to organise it!

I have an idea of where I will go over the weeks, but I’m not planning too far ahead. I have already decided the first few meetings will be on general science discussion topics so the group can get to know each other and feel comfortable talking together. Then I will move on to specific physics topics and the material will hopefully get more complex as the year goes on. I have told the students we will look at some recent physics results and experiments. It will be an opportunity to look at physics that is not covered by the A level course. I would like to look at some historical papers too – perhaps have something like an Einstein special. Clearly it’s my way of introducing things I like to students too 🙂

I talked with MrsDrSarah at yorkTU about her experiences running a science journal club and have shamelessly stolen the first weeks material from her club! So thank you!

For the first meeting I set an Infinite Monkey Cage podcast: What makes Science a Science?   I wanted to start with something very accessible and with a subject they would have plenty of opinions on!


So how did it go? 15 students ( a mixture of AS and A2) turned up. A few more sent apologies. We talked for 45 minutes. I made sure everyone contributed and also tried to move the discussion on if it appeared we were getting stuck on a particular point.  We had a real range of views from ‘everything is science, including drawing’ to ‘physics is the real science’ and ‘science is a way of approaching a problem that you can apply to any situation’.

The podcast discusses economics a lot because one of the guests (Evan Davis) is an economist and this filtered through to our discussion too. There was also a good range of opinions when I asked them if they considered themselves scientists.

I discovered it’s quite difficult for me to sit back and let other people talk (ha!) and all the biscuits I brought along seemed to be appreciated! Hope they come back next time and we can keep it going all year.

Next time: I’m going for a bad physics/science theme. Haven’t finalised the material yet, but think it will be an extract from Sagan’s The Demon Haunted World where he sets out his Baloney Detection Kit.



This entry was posted in A level, enrichment and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Physics Journal Club: What makes Science a Science?

  1. Pingback: Physics Journal Club: Bad Science | a physics classroom

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s