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Physics

 

SUBJECT overview

We follow the AQA syllabus in Physics. The course is split in three units at both AS and A2 stages.

Learners will take their terminal examination in June. They will study the following units at AS:

•Unit 1: Particles, Quantum Phenomena and Electricity

•Unit 2: Mechanics, Materials and Waves

•Unit 3: Investigative and Practical Skills. (20% of total AS marks, 10% of total A Level marks)

 

The learners will study the following units during the A2 units taking their terminal examinations in June:

•Unit 4: Fields and Further Mechanics

•Unit 5: This unit comprises two sections

‚ó¶Section A: Nuclear and Thermal Physics

 ‚ó¶Section B: Option Units

•Unit 6: Investigative and Practical Skills. (10% of the total A Level marks)

unit overview - autumn term 

Further mechanics, thermal physics, fields, nuclear physics

17: Circular motion, 18: Simple Harmonic Motion, 19: thermal physics, 20 Gases, 21: Gravitational fields, 22: Electric fields, 26: Radioactivity, 27: Nuclear

Skills

After carrying out the practical tasks in this topic, students will gain the following skills

Required Practical 7: Investigation into simple harmonic motion using a mass-spring system and a simple pendulum.

ATa. Students will use appropriate analogue apparatus to record range of measurements of length and distance of the pendulum and it’s motion.

ATb. Students will use digital instruments to obtain time of motion and mass of different pendulums.

ATc. Students will use methods to increase accuracy of measurements, such as timing over multiple oscillations and use of fiduciary markers and/or the use of video cameras. ATd. Students will need to use a use stopwatch for timing the period of a pendulum.

ATh. Students will learn to use an oscilloscope to alter and fix the induced frequency of the mass/spring system.

Ati. Students will use a vibration transducer to affect the frequency of the mass/spring system.

Required Practical 8: Investigation of Boyle’s (constant temperature) law and Charles’s (constant pressure law for a gas.

ATa. use appropriate analogue apparatus to record a range of measurements (to include length/distance, temperature, pressure, force, angles, volume) and to interpolate between scale markings.

Knowledge

  1. Further mechanics – Circular motion in general, uniform circular motion, centripetal acceleration, oscillations, simple harmonic motion, describe using arithmetic and trigonometry, energy and simple harmonic motion system, forced vibrations and resonance.
  2. Thermal physics- Internal energy and temperature, specific heat capacity, change of state, the experimental gas laws, the ideal gas law, the kinetic theory of gases.

Rationale

Content in this section links the force and acceleration in the context of objects moving with a circular motion at constant speed and oscillating in simple harmonic motion. It also includes real-world concepts such as damping and resonance that are found not just in mechanical systems but also in acoustic, atomic and electrical systems. Newton’s laws also provide an appreciation in providing key principles behind the design, construction and use of the machines that powered the industrial revolution to the current ones we reply on in the new scientific age.

Thermal physics provides a classic example of the successful use of theory to explain a law founded only on experimental observations.

Skills

Required Practical 11: Investigating of the effect on magnetic flux linkage of varying the angle using a hall probe and voltmeter (or a search coil & oscilloscope).

ATa. Use appropriate analogue apparatus to record a range of measurements (to include angles).

ATb. Use appropriate digital instruments.

ATf. Correctly construct circuits from circuit diagrams using dc power supplies, cells, and a range of circuit components.

ATh. Use of oscilloscope, including volts/division.

Knowledge

  1. Gravitational fields: Gravitational field strength and potential, Newton’s law of gravitation, planetary fields and satellite motion.
     
  2. Electric fields: Electric field patterns, electric field strength and potential, Coulomb’s law, point charges, comparison of gravitational and electric fields.

Rationale

Content in this section will deepen the understanding of the gravitational force and the electrostatic force generated between charged objects. In this section students understand the concepts of objects exerting forces on other objects without touching, ‘at a distance’. There is an understanding of the similarities and differences between gravitational and electric fields and how to compare the concepts mathematically also apply them. This includes the capacitor, which is commonly used in radio circuits and timing circuits used commercially and domestically.

Skills

After carrying out the practical tasks in this topic, students will gain the following skills

Required Practical 12: Investigation of the inverse-square law for gamma rays

ATa. Use appropriate analogue apparatus to record a range of measurements (to include length/distance).

ATb. Use appropriate digital instruments (scaler and stop clock).

ATk. Use ICT such as computer modelling, or data logger with a variety of sensors to collect data, or use of software to process data.

ATl. Use ionising radiation, including detectors.

Knowledge

  1. Radioactivity: Discovery of the nucleus, alpha, beta, gamma radiation and their properties, the dangers of radioactivity, radioactive decay and its theory, radioactive isotopes and their uses, nuclear radius.
     
  2. Nuclear energy: Energy and mass relationship, binding energy, fission and fusion, the thermal nuclear reactor.

Rationale

Concepts introduced at GCSE are further explored with more depth using theory and mathematics. Students develop and understanding and appreciation of the Rutherford alpha-scattering experiment that lead to the current nuclear model of the atom. The content also covers alpha, beta and gamma radiation and their properties such as range in air and ionisation capability. This leads to understanding of the damaging effects of radiation and the usefulness of radioactive isotopes and radioactivity. The theory include decay and half-life calculations such as those involved in radioactive dating and safe use and storage of radioactive material. This then creates an understanding of how and why energy is released in nuclear fission and fusion and how to calculate the energy produced within a nuclear reactor and stars.

unit overview - spring term 

Capacitors, Magnetic fields, and Electromagnetic induction

23: Capacitors, 24 Magnetic fields, 25: EM induction

Skills

After carrying out the practical tasks in this topic, students will gain the following skills

Required Practical 11: Investigating the charging and discharging of capacitors through a resistor.

ATb. Use appropriate digital instruments, including electrical multimeters, to obtain a range of measurements (to include time, voltage).

ATd. Use stopwatch for timing.

ATf. Correctly construct circuits from circuit diagrams using DC power supplies, cells, and a range of circuit components, including those where polarity is important.

ATg. Design, construct and check circuits using DC power supplies, cells, and a range of circuit components.

After carrying out the practical tasks in this topic, students will gain the following skills

Required Practical 10: Investigate how the force on a wire varies with flux density, current and length of a wire using a top pan balance.

ATa. Use appropriate analogue apparatus to record a range of measurements (to include length/distance).

ATb. Use appropriate digital instruments to obtain a range of measurements (to include current, mass).

ATf. correctly construct circuits from circuit diagrams using DC power supplies, cells, and a range of components

Knowledge

Capacitors: Capacitance, energy stored in a capacitor, charging and discharging a capacitor and dielectrics

Magnetic fields: Current-carrying conductors in a magnetic field, moving charges in a magnetic field, charged particles in circular orbits

Electromagnetic induction: Generating electricity, the laws of electromagnetic induction, the alternating current generator and transformers.

Rationale

Content in this section will deepen the understanding of the forces that a magnetic field exerts on current carrying conductors and moving charges. Again this reinforces the concept of a force acting at a distance and links it to electrical fields as well. This provides a mathematical understanding of in terms of a field surrounding and object and the variation of the acting force due to its mass or charge or due to an electric current passing through it. This then provides further understanding of the use of the theory in everyday applications such as alternating current generators and transformers used to provide electricity for use.

knowledge Organiser

A knowledge organiser is an important document that lists the important facts that learners should know by the end of a unit of work. It is important that learners can recall these facts easily, so that when they are answering challenging questions in their assessments and GCSE and A-Level exams, they are not wasting precious time in exams focusing on remembering simple facts, but making complex arguments, and calculations.

We encourage all pupils to use them by doing the following:

  • Quiz themselves at home, using the read, write, cover, check method.
  • Practise spelling key vocabulary
  • Further researching people, events and processes most relevant to the unit.