2. Relating physics to everyday life

As you begin to make a conscious effort to link science in the classroom with everyday life, you will find numerous examples to support your teaching. It is a good idea to keep a notebook or file in which you record ideas or keep articles from magazines or newspapers. In order to emphasise the relevance of science, it is good to get outside the classroom. Resource 4 gives you some ideas of the sorts of places you could go to. Case study 2 describes how a teacher took his class to a garage.

Case study 2: Visiting a garage

Mr Wekesa, an experienced teacher who had worked in a garage before joining teacher training college, wanted to break the monotony of teaching in the school environment. He decided that the students should visit a garage. Wishing to make science real and relevant, he first explained to the students using diagrams how a hydraulic lift works. The students drew the diagram in their books but he asked them not to name the various parts. After this he took the students to a modern garage opposite the school with a hydraulic lift. The students were first supposed to observe the parts and compare what they saw with the diagram they had drawn. The mechanic helped them to label the parts of the diagram.

Mr Wekesa discovered that most of the students in the class had visited the garage on their way to school but they had not realised how relevant the principles they had learnt in their physics lessons would prove to be. Mr Wekesa did a follow-up by asking the class to make a model of a hydraulic lift and presented it in a science congress competition. He commented that it was wonderful to see the enthusiasm in his class.

Activity 2: Visiting a playground

Choose somewhere near to your school where the principles of physics are apparent, for example a garage, with hydraulic jacks; building sites, with pulleys and levers; a playground with swings, roundabouts and seesaws; a farm with many simple machines.

Go along yourself the week before and make up a list of questions for your students that will make them think about the physics principles. For example, in a playground you could get them to think about what affects the periodic time of a swing, how to make a seesaw balance with a heavier and a lighter person, what forces you experience on a roundabout. On a building site or a farm, ask them to find examples of the ways in which the builders and farmers make use of machines such as pulleys, crow-bars and wheelbarrows to do heavy lifting.

When you get back to the classroom, ask them each to write a short report in which they explain how three physics ideas were being used.

1. Everyday examples of ‘pressure’

3. How can we keep things cold?