You need to login before you download the free activities. You can register here.


Physics idol

  • Key Stage 3
  • Topical

Type: Activity
Learning Strategy: Case study
Topic: Energy resources

What's the point of fabulous, innovative physics if no one knows about it? Science communication is now so important that there's just been a competition to find out who's best at making science sparkle. A guitar-playing patent office examiner ran away with first prize in the FameLab final at the Cheltenham Science Festival. He amazed his audience with a physics feast as he explained how music works.

Physics Idol is a contest in which students plan exciting explanations of everyday physics phenomena. They push their potential for TV stardom by presenting their explanation to their classmates, who award marks for physics, clarity and charisma.

This activity was produced in partnership with the Institute of Physics.

Published: 22nd June 2005
Reviews & Comments: 0

Learning objectives

Students will devise and present exciting explanations of physics phenomena.

Try the activity

You will need Acrobat Reader installed to open the activity sheets.

Key concepts from topics 7I, 7J, 7K, 7L, 8J, 8K, 8L
The activity is designed to be accessible to students in both years 8 and 9 since no topics from year 9 are included.

Running the activity

Display page 1, which describes the FameLab competition to find science communicators with charisma who can make science sparkle. Tell students that they will be planning and presenting talks to explain the physics of everyday things. Then display page 2. This tells students how to plan and present exciting explanations. At this stage, get students to draw up a scorecard for the presentations – they will be judging their classmates later on. Make sure students understand the meanings of the column headings!

Names Science accuracy Clarity Charisma

Then give each group a card cut from page 3 – each card is an 'explain this' challenge. Page 4 comprises optional help cards, to support students if necessary.

Next, give students at least 10 minutes to prepare their presentations. Students then present their explanations to the class – their classmates act as judges, filling in their scorecards at the end of each talk.

Finally, pool the scores, and ask if good presenting is a skill that you've either 'got or not', or if there are things you can do to get better at it.

News links

BBC news
For the news story about Dr Mark Lewney winning the competition, look at this web page.
Channel 4
FameLab's website includes this page of advice from a coach to top TV presenters.

Reviews & Comments

Write your online review to share your feedback and classroom tips with other teachers. How well does it work, how engaging is it, how did you use it, and how could it be improved?