Category: frontpage

Feb 2024 Visitor Stats – Animated Science

I often get asked by students and teachers how many views does my site gets each month. Well, it actually varies a lot depending on what students are researching worldwide. I get a variance of several thousand each month and sometimes double. However, this month I thought I would share my current views…

626,000 – Total Impressions

20,000 – Clicks on content

5000 – Individual users

The most popular pages now are… Exam question booklets, KS3 Energy Stores and Conduction, Convection and Radiation. Interestingly Year 9 SATs papers are still extremely popular but who knows why as that format died a long time ago!

I thought I would also share my site kit analysis page of where all the people are coming from who use my site. This also changes a lot, but this month it is the UK mainly but, worldwide there is also a lot of use. I also find it interesting that most users are still on a desktop device, but the phone users are there too. I have always tried to improve my site to cater for both groups. To be fair the modern WordPress setup means that I use the same theme for both whereas I used to have to run two themes and autodetect.

The source of my users is also interesting as organic search seems to be the way of being found. This is great, as organic search is free and relies on relevant content so clearly my topics are hitting the spot.

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Naked World History Features Animated Science Egyptian Mummy Video

I can announce that tvN, a South Korean television network owned by CJ ENM Co., Ltd want to feature my Gebelein man video in their upcoming history program to air on the 20th of Feb 2024. The TV program is called “Naked World History,” and is an educational series led by history experts that focuses on factual historical content. The program aims to explore lesser-known aspects of world history from various perspectives, including the historical landmarks of different countries. This mummy is the oldest in the world found.

He was buried in about 3500 BC (if not earlier) at the site of Gebelein in Upper Egypt. Direct contact with the hot, dry sand naturally mummified his body, making him one of the best-preserved individuals from ancient Egypt. He has been in the British Museum collection for over 100 years and in 2012 he was taken out of the Museum for the first time to be CT scanned to find out how he died.

I recorded this video 8 years ago now and it has had 4400 views. My main reason for recording it was to help teach Half Life to GCSE students to set the scene for where you would get your sample from for a carbon dating process. Also for students who many of which have not got the funds or the understanding to visit the musuem to see for themselves. Interestingly many visitors when I was there walked past and did not realise how important this find was.

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A-Level Physics Tutoring?

I get around 2 requests each week to tutor A-Level or GCSE Physics from various sources. I keep giving out the same advice to people so my suggestion is this…

Save your money and work harder, very few people really need a tutor!

Mainly the content is already out there for free that you need to access and the key to success at A-level Physics is using your own brain and developing the cross links and problem solving abilities under pressure yourself.

Increasingly the exams are  becoming more of an IQ test than anything else and having a tutor lead you through the maze of issues does not enhance your IQ or skills, it just helps you able to copy other people for a short period of time.

The key to being a great A-level Physics student is actually your own abilty to think for yourself. So the more you get pushed in that direction the better. Why have someone solve it for you, when you can struggle and do it yourself!

The common threads for people who struggle with Physics are either they are simply not clever enough to be doing it OR get the grade they want, that elusive A* OR simply they don’t work hard enough. The value of a good Physics candidate is lateral thinking as well as intelect. You can only develop this by self study.

Hence, my key suggestions to sucess for all candidates A*-E are…

  1. Read the textbook carefully, answer the questions, then check your answers and methods. Use my printed booklets for practice examples as I have collated the best from the internet. In particular the practical analysis sheets. There is no subsitute for drawing graphs and practicing the skills for CPAC for Paper 3.
  2. Look at the syllabus and review each bullet point, decide if it needs a maths response, wordy response OR both. Think about the questions that might be asked and research them. You don’t have to answer all of Physics, just the stuff on the spec points. That does not mean just learn the spec as you are not just doing this to pass an exam!
  3. Use my site and video bank of key ideas where I have already looked at lots of key demonstrations OR explainations and found the  “best of youtube”. Sit down and make some notes from the videos, active learning is key
  4. Practice real exam questions from AQA (not a random site) as these are what you will face. Pick the most modern papers first as they style has changed. Also write down the working for all the multihoice, nobody really does it all in their heads!
  5. Expect synoptic questions with lots of topics pulled together and be flexible in this process.
  6. Be realistic on what grade you are expecting. Not everyone will get an A* and Physics is the hardest subject up there with Further Maths for UCAS grades. Maybe pick something easier if your just looking for a high grade.
  7. Don’t expect to understand Grav fields, Mag Fields, Electric Fields instantly, it is really hard and takes a lof of going round and round. It also helps to use some of the turning points ideas on Mag and Electric fields and examples that you are not tested on. The people who write the questions sometimes forget that you don’t all do that unit.
  8. Particle Physics is a lot of factual learning and some teachers will skip on the content. I have put together a full set of notes so you can actually understand it. This is a lot of reading but a superb grounding that will allow you to answer any questions so please use my PPT’s for Chapter 1,2,3
  9. Do the optional unit that you class at school is doing, mostly you will be better when you are taught lessons.
  10. Work really hard, as mostly people who want a tutor are just not working hard enough.

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Measles is a Highly Contagious Infection

According to the NHS one person can infect nine out of 10 unvaccinated close contacts. The infection can have a number of serious complications, including pneumonia, blindness, seizures and meningitis. Babies under the age of one, young children, pregnant women and immunocompromised people are vulnerable to the more aggressive side effects.


Before a vaccine for measles was created, there were regular epidemics that caused approximately 2.6 million deaths worldwide each year. In England, the year before the vaccine was introduced in 1968, there were 460,000 cases of measles – by the 1980s that number had dropped to about 10,000 suspected cases a year.

To drive home the importance of getting protected from this highly contagious infection, the government implemented a national vaccination campaign in 1994 – the impact was immediately felt. There have been no measles epidemics since 1995 and in 2017, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared England measles free.

So, how, in just seven years, is measles back at the top of the health agenda?

A combination of factors means measles cases are rising rapidly in England and Wales. Figures from NHS England suggest more than 3.4 million children under the age of 16 years are unprotected against measles, mumps and rubella.

The steady decline of MMR vaccine uptake has made measles outbreaks increasingly common. Certain regions are worst affected, particularly the West Midlands, where more than 300 cases were reported between 23 October and 15 January. After these outbreaks, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) declared a national incident and warned that further outbreaks could spread across the country, even though 85% of children nationally have had their second dose of the MMR vaccine. This is because, to ensure herd immunity, 95% of the population has to be fully vaccinated.

When did this start?

Though the problems surrounding MMR vaccine coverage have become particularly amplified in recent months, it is not a new issue. In 1998, former physician Andrew Wakefield put forward a widely and since comprehensively debunked hypothesis linking the MMR vaccine to autism. What we saw after that was a drop in uptake because people were worried about this false link, It meant that quite a lot of people born in that time did not have two doses of the vaccine, leaving a lot of late teens and young adults vulnerable to measles in the late 2010s.” Before the Covid pandemic hit, there were a number of outbreaks of mumps and measles in secondary schools and universities, in part because of Wakefield’s hypothesis.

There has also, separately, been a slow decline over the last decade in vaccine uptake, meaning that young children are now also vulnerable – 60% of cases in current outbreaks are assumed to be in children under the age of 10. Any drop in uptake is a problem.

Measles is a nasty infection, so this is serious. About one in five kids who get the disease have been admitted to hospital for treatment. It can cause very serious infection – about one in 1,000 people get inflammation of the brain and about one in 5,000 in countries like the UK can die”.

Why are people not getting vaccinated?

Though vaccine misinformation has played a role in the decline, it is not the only factor. Most parents do get their children vaccinated, as we can see from the figures. Parental confidence in vaccines is high: a 2022 survey conducted by the UKHSA found that 95% of parents agree vaccines work, 91% think they are safe and 90% agree they trust vaccines – so what is stopping parents from getting the jabs into their children’s arms?

The first issue is access and flexibility when it came to booking the appointment initially.  There is also underinvestment in the NHS has meant that we don’t necessarily have systems where people are being chased up, reminded and given that extra encouragement to get this done.

The irony of the measles conundrum is that the efficacy of the vaccine has meant that most people are not aware of how serious the infection can be, and therefore there is not much urgency when it comes to getting vaccinated. Most of us will never have actually seen measles and could mistakenly think that it is just a bit of a rash that clears up after a few days, not realising that this is a very serious and potentially fatal disease.

During the height of the pandemic, many parents were also nervous or hesitant to go into hospitals or other health settings to get children vaccinated for fear of getting infected with Covid and others simply did not know that these routine vaccinations were still happening at that point. So there’s a melting pot of reasons for the decline.

If the government and the NHS deal with all of the various components of this problem, they can stop the infection from becoming a full-blown health crisis. Conversely, any level of complacency will exacerbate the problem.

We have a safe and highly effective vaccine; we shouldn’t have measles in the UK. So it’s about putting resources into getting jabs into the arms of those who are unvaccinated and highlighting it to all.

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Electric Car Battery Technology 2023

So a  lot of interest keeps being generated by this topic globally as people struggle to see how we are going to move from the ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) to a more sustainable way of getting around.

To be fair I think mostly the mainstream media are selling the public a whole tissue of lies when which is a shame, as we can do some amazing things with electric now, but its not quite as easy as they are making out.

One advance to keep an eye on this year is in so-called solid-state batteries which I am reading a lot more about. The current lithium-ion batteries and related chemistries use a liquid electrolyte that shuttles charge around; solid-state batteries replace this liquid with ceramics or other solid materials. I think we have really reached the limit for energy density for Li-ion at a cheap price.

Researchers have succeeded in making rechargeable pouch-type lithium batteries with a record-breaking energy density of over 700 Wh/kg. The new design comprises a high-capacity lithium-rich manganese-based cathode and a thin lithium metal anode with high specific energy. If developed further, the device could find use in applications such as electric aviation, which requires much higher energy density batteries than those available today.

This swap unlocks possibilities that pack more energy into a smaller space, potentially improving the range of electric vehicles. Solid-state batteries could also move charge around faster, meaning shorter charging times. And because some solvents used in electrolytes can be flammable, proponents of solid-state batteries say they improve safety by cutting fire

However, a new type of battery could finally make electric cars as convenient and cheap as gas ones. Solid-state batteries can use a wide range of chemistries, but a leading candidate for commercialization uses lithium metalQuantumscape, for one, is focused on that technology and raised hundreds of millions in funding before going public in 2020. The company has a deal with Volkswagen that could put its batteries in cars by 2025.  They have created a single-layer, solid-state lithium-metal battery cell.

However, completely reinventing batteries has proved difficult, and lithium-metal batteries have seen concerns about degradation over time, as well as manufacturing challenges. Quantumscape announced in late December it had delivered samples to automotive partners for testing, a significant milestone on the road to getting solid-state batteries into cars. Other solid-state-battery players, like Solid Power, are also working to build and test their batteries. But while they could reach major milestones this year as well, their batteries won’t make it into vehicles on the road in 2023. 

Solid-state batteries aren’t the only new technology to watch out for. Sodium-ion batteries also swerve sharply from lithium-ion chemistries common today. These batteries have a design similar to that of lithium-ion batteries, including a liquid electrolyte, but instead of relying on lithium, they use sodium as the main chemical ingredient. Chinese battery giant CATL reportedly plans to begin mass-producing them in 2023. 

Sodium-ion batteries may not improve performance, but they could cut costs because they rely on cheaper, more widely available materials than lithium-ion chemistries do. But it’s not clear whether these batteries will be able to meet needs for EV range and charging time.

Cathodes are typically one of the most expensive parts of a battery, and a type of cathode called NMC (nickel manganese cobalt) is the dominant variety in EV batteries today. But those three elements, in addition to lithium, are expensive, so cutting some or all of them could help decrease costs. 

This year could be a breakout year for one alternative: lithium iron phosphate (LFP), a low-cost cathode material sometimes used for lithium-ion batteries. 

The big question I have is when we will see the birth and realisation of a viable retrofit system where you can give up a bit of boot space, or undercar space, to have a battery pack and electrical motor fitted in good cars already out there. This could be a licence to print money and be much better for the environment. In the mean time I am holding on to both my Saab 95 cars in hope!

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Teacher Workload

I was looking at the Toolkits sent out from the Department for Education to try and help schools reduce workload. I think they have some good ideas to start off some schools who really struggle with this. I like this graph idea where you identify as high workload / low impact to give you area of focus.

Should these practices be stopped, amended to make them less time intensive, or refined so they have more impact?

If it does not really help students in a major way, we all just need to ditch it and do things that work. Marking is a huge part of this and some people are obsessed with it. However, the golden part of marking is pupils reflecting on their own work. This actually often does not need to be as teacher centric as many schools make it.

Also I think we need to look at communication – both internally and externally. It vital to have, but can place a significant demand on us all.

What can all of us (school leaders, teachers and support staff) do to lower the burden.

By updating policies and practice, streamlining or just stopping dead all the things that hoover up your time?

I think schools are really poor at times at just saying no to parents or stakeholders and often people in SLT positions add on tasks all the time without removal of existing burdens. Industry is great at avoiding this as usually your business collapses as the profits dry up and inefficiency’s creep in. Also schools historically are tied to all sorts of traditions which seem to be stuck in the UK. Things like a yearly school reports on paper, got replaced by multiple reports which ultimately may be done on a computer but generally seem to be more of a burden than ever before. In an age where we can share any grade with parents online, why not just share the testing and any behaviour issues when they come up? Also just keep it simple!

I wonder how many people in SLT see it as their job to be the “streamliner” and efficiency expert. This is your key role and everyone should have the mantra that if they can shave even 30s off a process it may ultimately lead to hours of saving of time for staff at the whiteboard. Filling in forms and sharing information is another notoriously complex task in some schools. This can all be streamlined, and project managed to give a better outcome in less time.

Final point, maybe teachers need to have a standard 36 hour contract and then anything else is paid overtime. This may bring out the best in SLT and middle managers to get it right for staff. When you are paid by the hour, you never take longer to do anything that is mission critical

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2023 Poorly Written AQA Physics Exam

I am extremely disappointed by this year’s AQA Spec A A-level papers. The challenge was simply too much for many pupils and clearly the difficulty of the papers in comparison to Edexcel as a comparison was clear from the papers and marks requires for higher grades which were significantly different. See my analysis below of the difference between the two papers.

The content itself is clearly similar overall to both courses but the contexts were not to that taught. Pupils and teachers expect to teach on a factual and then see that mostly that content is obvious when tested. The whole question should not be cryptic and clearly whoever was writing most of the longer answer questions was someone with a point to prove. The Physics subject is not popular at most schools and has become worse over time with many pupils simply not picking it as the chances of getting an A or A* at other subjects is easier. We have no coursework to pick up some easier marks so it’s all on 3 hard papers. Paper 3 had a question to start about the “duty cycle” of an oscilloscope. Interesting you don’t need to know what that is to answer to that to get the 1 marker, but I have never each heard of a “duty cycle”. When you delve into it with the internet available and work through the question with help of a mark scheme it is clear. Not complex but convoluted and not accessible. So, if I have never heard of it, taught or, been taught it and I have a pure Physics degree, who will?  I pride myself on doing a thorough job and even teach Lissajous figures which most don’t so how did my pupils get caught out?

Also, Paper 3 Q1.3 talks of “graphical analysis of figure 1” which is a photograph and not graph. As a good teacher I always ask pupils to look at the whole of a question before they start. When I did Q1.3 I was confused I as looked at figure 3 after the question as it was a graph wondering what to do. It’s another example of poor wording and making the questions so long over pages it is just confusing. Also, some of the practical questions were just not clear on what they wanted and again so convoluted it was hard for any pupil so see what to answer. A lot were just stabbing around in the dark as was I when I did the papers myself in lots of questions. They took me ages to work out and the time you gave in the exam was not enough. I would have certainly run out of time and not been tested on what I knew. The practical skills are hard enough to teach with simply basic examples of graphing and skills we don’t need to make it into a maths exercise. Which brings me onto the maths across all three papers. In reality your exams are not accessible for any pupils not taking A-level Maths to an A2 level. Virtually every question seemed to have some fiddly maths on each level to start and finish a question. Paper3 Q7 on nuclear decay and thermal neutrons usually has been a straightforward word-based question to explain. However, they showed a complex ratio graph, again which I have never seen in all my travels (and I worked at the Nuclear electric but had not taken a “nuclear physics degree”). It’s just too involved for mainstream exams and pushing onto university ideas. If you want them to be taught this kind of thing, it needs to be clearly defined in the specifications so I can teach them some of it beforehand.

The leaps expected for most students are so tricky, again they are just guessing and randomly stumbling on an answer. Why make it so tricky, just not needed. It is wrong to do this as we are ending up cutting off many students. Since the A-level reforms nobody does AS so we don’t even have pupils taking Maths further than GCSE. If you want this to be the case, you need to put out new guidance to teachers so we can make this clear. Again, the Maths only route is really not great for Physics numbers.

Physics drops as a mainstream subject down the rankings

I have taught AQA for all of my 21-year career and had many pupils obtain A* grades over an extended period of time and see many go to Oxbridge or other high class destinations. We also had pupils with exceptionally low grades which made 2 years of their and our lives pointless. This is similar to when pupils and teachers were cheating at AQA ISA exams and I realised that they had become impossible to do unless you cheated, I switched to the EMPA exam and found my A* students again were obtaining A* instead of C on the ISA exams. We must change it for next year or we will end up with an even bigger crisis than ever in Physics teaching and nobody will take physics. I am really saddened and hope AQA will listen.

So if anyone who works with AQA has any thoughts, please share them, and AQA might listen?

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August 2023 Summer Updates

Afternoon All!

Just a mention I have been tweaking and removing some older content from the main menus, you can still get it by using the search function but I have I tweaked the KS3 and Science areas to make it easy to find things and also add some new topics. I am broadly trying to follow the Active series of lessons by OUP so adding content as I go. I don’t teach much if any KS3 Science now so it might be a while, but when I have more time, I will add lots more of my hidden resources and build some more video banks. Any questions please let me know, and remember if you use the resources they are not for resale but free to share and use for lessons.

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