Te Kete Ipurangi Navigation:

Te Kete Ipurangi

Te Kete Ipurangi user options:

Senior Secondary navigation


Designing a physics course

Physics is in many ways, the science of invention. Teenagers are fascinated by how their world operates. Physics provides a pathway for students to understand the physical world and use this understanding to create new technologies.

Focus statements for physics

Regardless of the specific context selected, these focus statements provide the basis of a rounded physics course:

  • Energy is neither created nor destroyed but can only be changed from one form to another.
  • The universe evolves by means of interactions.
  • Some quantities are conserved.
  • Simple mathematical laws and formula can be use to represent, measure and predict physical phenomena.
  • There are four fundamental forces.

These focus statements are the starting points from which teachers can develop high-level, overarching questions that will focus teaching and learning within the chosen context.

Under each overarching question, students and teachers can co-construct inquiry questions that come out of their experiences and expertise and the opportunities that are within reach.

Physics at level 6

Students are often disengaged by contexts that are not directly relevant to them. The sample programme presented here is based around a thematic approach using the context of telecommunications. It has been used in an inner-city, single-sex school where the students were actively involved in the decisions about what areas would be investigated. It is an example only, designed to help teachers visualise how they might go about planning their own programme.

Rather than use it as presented, teachers should design courses that will engage their own students and make full use of the opportunities that are available in their own area and in their own community.

As planning for a science programme necessarily takes place in the previous year, the suggestions that follow are deliberately open-ended so that they can be developed into a much more detailed plan when it is known who the students are.

The direction a course takes will depend on student interests and prior experience and on the opportunities that present themselves during the year. This collaborative approach to programme design is vital to ensure that the students take ownership of their learning.

Physics at levels 7 and 8

Students going into level 7 have been exposed to a range of science areas and are probably starting to develop a more personal interest in particular aspects or areas of science. The sample programme given here builds on the skills and concepts developed in the level 6 telecommunications programme.

There are vast industries specifically focused on the application and engineering of physical concepts (light, heat, sound, and so on). Physics students should develop sufficient scientific awareness and skills to be able to engage with these areas and nurture further interest in them.

It is possible to identify numerous focus issues or questions that can be developed into level 7 and 8 courses that both satisfy the requirements and expectations of The New Zealand Curriculum and provide an adequate grounding for those students who go on to tertiary studies or industry-based employment.

Last updated December 14, 2012