“Complex”, “theory-intensive”, “difficult to score' – these are the popular notions about high school physics, particularly among students following the State Board syllabus.

Introducing more experiments and practical sessions will enrich Physics teaching in schools, say experts.

A group of 33 Plus Two physics teachers, over the last two days, were exposed to ways of making physics learning fun. Thanks to an initiative of Ethiraj College for Women, the teachers, handling physics for classes XI and XII in Chennai Schools, Government Schools and Adi Dravidar Welfare Schools, learnt the practical side of several theoretical concepts they have been teaching students for years.

A. Jeyabharathi, who heads the Physics Department of the college, said: “We wanted to share our resources with our counterparts in schools. Our principal Dr. Jothi Kumaravel thinks it is important to have such exchanges.”

Practical application of concepts in physics is crucial to improving students' overall orientation to the subject, stress professors. It is time the school syllabi allowed students to appreciate the scope for analytical thinking in physics. “All engineering disciplines that they might study later will draw upon physics,” said Shahida Banu, associate professor.

Even school teachers feel students might get a better hang of the subject after trying out experiments. R. Arunachalam, physics teacher at Chennai Higher Secondary School, Tondiarpet, said: “Though we have been teaching the subject for many years (the syllabus was last revised eight years ago), there is scope to look at it from a skill, application point of view.”

Handling instruments such as spectrometers, moving microscope or the Cathode Ray Oscilloscope (CRO) can make concepts more interesting, as they will validate theoretical concepts, he added.

Amalorpava Mary, headmistress, Adi Dravidar Welfare Higher Secondary School, Kannigapuram, said the sessions with the college professors also featured elaborate circuits. “With some more equipment, we can allow students to try out experiments. That will strengthen their conceptual understanding.”

Syllabus

Making school physics interesting may not just have to do with introducing more practical components, but also have to do with making it more relevant to students in different groups, say teachers. Pointing to the current plus two syllabus, teachers observed that students who have chosen mathematics as well as those who have dropped it study the same physics.

“A lot of physics is closely linked to maths. A student studying maths will find certain portions more relevant than those who don't. We should evolve different syllabi for them,” Mr. Arunachalam added.

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Meera SrinivasanJune 28, 2012