Opinion

Physics is FUN

Written By : Sun Fiji Newsroom. Physics, as Wikipedia describes it, is the science of matter and its motion, as well as space and time – the science that deals
23 Jun 2008 12:00

image Written By : Sun Fiji Newsroom. Physics, as Wikipedia describes it, is the science of matter and its motion, as well as space and time – the science that deals with concepts such as force, energy, mass, and charge. As an experimental science, its goal is to understand the natural world.
As I describe it, it’s a mentally stimulating, challenging and fun side of life. Many people fail to realise its importance in their lives and to the same it’s a mere headache of a subject to be done in high school.
I believe that the best part of studying physics is the ability to understand how things in our daily life work. For starters, it clearly explains why that soccer or rugby ball that you kicked will eventually fall back to the ground (or even on someone’s head for that matter), why your food cooks much faster when covered, why steam (being at the same temperature as boiling water) can cause much more severe burns to you and make you go bonkers (‘coz of pain) whereas boiling water will only cause a superficial burn to the skin, and the list is endless, not to mention that the work of a physicist mainly involves adding things to this list so YOU can understand it.
From what I’ve observed, for an average science student in the north, physics is probably the least liked subject. They say its ‘hard’. The faint line dividing ‘hard’ from ‘challenging’ is usually made even fainter due to a weak physics foundation in the early years. A lot of emphasis should be laid on Form 5 physics to prevent this since there is a relative steep learning curve of the physics part of science from Form 4 to Form 5.
Another problem is the lack of students who speak up regarding the problems they have in understanding physics. This makes it even harder for teachers to teach the subject.
To teach physics, a school must be sufficiently equipped. A physics laboratory with the required equipment is necessary to open up the students to the practical side of physics and thus spark a little bit more interest in them. Fortunately, due to the recent establishment of the Fiji Physics Society, it is now possible for schools lacking in laboratory equipment to trade in or ‘borrow’ from other schools which are members of the society (and vice versa for schools having an excess of specific equipment).
There has also been a lack of ‘other activities’ regarding physics in schools. Activities like having written competitions are scarce and not rewarding. Once again, FPS has planned to improve this area by launching its own Physics Quiz in which all northern schools are invited to take part. This competition provides relatively much better awards to students who perform well and it is this acknowledgement which can further promote the students’ interest in this subject. FPS also held a Mouse-Trap Racer competition in Labasa College this year which was very well received by students and turned out to be a ‘blast’. Activities like these which scream out the theme of ‘Fun with Physics’ should be conducted often and in as many schools as possible. Inter-school competitions don’t look a thing of the far future with such competitions either. Terms like ‘friction’ and ‘aerodynamics’ are usually thought of as words only to be uttered in the physics class. But when it came down to winning the Mouse-Trap racer competition, students finally got to practically understand these terms and their effects on their racer. I’m willing to bet that the team which wins the competition by only an inch will definitely understand the importance of oiling the axles and also understand the clear meaning of friction.
Physics is not the easiest thing to learn in the world, I agree, but nothing should stop it from being the most interesting.
I’m sure there are quite a few students out there who show a keen interest in this subject but are at times limited by classroom teaching and their coursework. Another possibility is that the student is not able to cope with the teaching style of the teacher. Neither of these situations represents a fault in the teacher or the student but merely an evidence of unique individuality. I have faced this too and the two things that I would recommend are the Library and the Internet, with the latter being the best. Some sites like www.physicsclassroom.com and www.physicsforums.com are very beneficial for Form 5, 6 and 7 students.
The ‘Physics Classroom’ one has good content for Form 5 and 6 students in a very enjoyable and explanatory way and the Forum mentioned is the ultimate ‘asking’ place. It has categories for all science divisions and discussions can be done with highly qualified people all over the world. You are bound to get correct help in the forum. All you need to do is ask and show your genuine effort.
So as you all can imagine, making Physics an enjoyable subject and a part of life is not hard. With bodies like FPS already having taken the initiative to spark it all up, you can do too by joining the society and/or carrying out activities with the above mentioned ones as examples and thus breaking that typical stereotypical attitude of students towards physics.



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