Resources from Oxford
The Zooniverse is the world’s largest and most popular platform for people-powered research and it is jointly hosted at Oxford. This research is made possible by volunteers — more than a million people around the world who come together to assist professional researchers. Zooniverse research results in new discoveries, datasets useful to the wider research community, and many publications. Zooniverse is a excellent resource for the classroom as students can play their part in today’s scientific discoveries and help to change the world they live in. You can explore current research projects on the Zooniverse website here.
You can get involved at whatever level you fancy, whether that is a couple of casual clicks while you’re waiting for the bus (there's an app), or some in-depth collaboration with other citizen scientists through the forums and talk boards. And the projects are so many and varied that there’s bound to be one that catches your imagination. You can classify galaxies. You can study the surface of Mars. You can hunt for planets beyond the solar system. But you can also identify wildlife in photos from South African national parks, count penguins in the Southern Ocean, or study plates of tuberculosis to better understand antibiotic resistance. There are hundreds of projects and they all genuinely need your help! It’s a great way to deepen your understanding of a topic and get involved with actual scientific research without having to leave the comfort of… wherever you and your device are right now.
Podcasts & videos
Students who wish to learn more about physics research at Oxford can find a number of podcasts and videos online aimed at public audiences:
- The Oxford Physics YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYwVpRH-VqWfySKZntMhP9A
- Public lectures in the Department: podcasts.ox.ac.uk/units/department-physics
- Quantum technologies videos: nqit.ox.ac.uk/content/videos.html
- Oxford Quantum Materials YouTube Channel: bit.ly/QMOYouTube
- The Royal Institution’s ‘Particle accelerators for humanity’ series featuring Oxford’s Dr Suzie Sheehy: bit.ly/PAHYouTube
British Physics Olympiad
The BPhO (British Physics Olympiad) is an educational charity and national physics project aimed at 14-19 year olds. The BPhO is hosted at the Department of Physics, where the administrative office is based, and the competitions and events form part of our outreach programme.
There are ten annual BPhO physics competitions that encourage the study of physics and recognise excellence in young physicists. Over 25,000 students, aged 14 - 18 years, participate in the competition papers each year. All non-fee-paying UK schools can enter two students into each competition free of charge. The competition papers are designed to challenge students (age 14-18 years) and develop their problem solving skills. All past papers are available for free and can be a useful resource for teachers wishing to extend their most able physics students.
To find out more about the competition, access the free papers or register to take part visit the British Physics Olympiad webpage: https://www.bpho.org.uk/
Why String Theory
This site developed by Prof Joseph Conlon provides a brief and entertaining introduction to string theory. Topics include quantum gravity, quantum strings and extra dimensions. Check out whystringtheory.com. There is also a book with the same title voted Physics World's 2016 Book of the Year.
www.oxfordsparks.ox.ac.uk: Oxford Sparks is a digital portal for engaging with a wealth of exciting science taking place across Oxford University. The site includes podcasts, animations, teaching resources, blogs and profiles of researchers.
www.oxplore.org: Oxplore is an digital outreach portal from the University of Oxford. It aims to tackle complex ideas and ‘Big Questions’ across a wide range of subjects, underpinned by the latest research at Oxford. The ideas reflect the kind of thinking students undertake at universities like Oxford.
Physics-related questions on Oxplore:
- Do aliens exist?
- Can time travel ever be possible?
- Do we all see colour in the same way?
- Could we live on another planet?
- Are humans ruining the earth?
Very Short Introductions
Oxford's Very Short Introductions is a book series that offers concise and original introductions to a wide range of subjects. Many of the physics titles were written by researchers at Oxford Physics! Here are a selection:
- Astrophysics: A Very Short Introduction - James Binney
- Black Holes: A Very Short Introduction - Katherine Blundell
- Crystallography: A Very Short Introduction - A. M. Glazer
- Light: A Very Short Introduction - Ian A. Walmsley
- Magnetism: A Very Short Introduction - Stephen J. Blundell
- Particle Physics: A Very Short Introduction - Frank Close
- Telescopes: A Very Short Introduction - Geoff Cottrell (visitor)
Resources from elsewhere
A big part of physics (and engineering) beyond A level is problem-solving, and it’s a skill that universities often look for in applications. The good news is that, because it’s a skill, you can practise and improve. One of the best places to go is the Isaac Physics(link is external) site. It’s a huge, free online resource that can take you a long way, covering physics (and some maths) from GCSE to beyond A levels. You can register for a free account, and complete problem “boards”. It tells you how you’re doing as you progress through, giving you hints and solutions. It’s a really great way to improve your physics without needing to pay or to find someone willing to help you.
The Institute of Physics
The UK’s home for physics is the Institute of Physics. Based in London, they support physicists, teachers and students with online resources, meetings, publishing and more. You can pay to become a member, but there’s plenty of free stuff on their site. Of particular note is the weekly Physics World online magazine, which highlights the latest advances in physics at a largely intelligible level and recently became a podcast too. Although aimed at teachers, their education resources, available at IOP Spark, are also worth checking out. They also hold talks and lectures around the country – find your local IOP branch and get on their events mailing list to keep up to date with what’s on offer near you.
Qubit: An IOP newsletter for students aged between 16-19 years. The newsletter provides information about what’s new in physics, university guidance, information about careers and upcoming events and competitions. Subscribe here: https://www.iop.org/education/school-and-college-students.
Physics.org: This website is brought to you by the Physics in Society team at the Institute of Physics. The aim is to inspire people of all ages about physics and to highlight the best physics resources on the web.
Royal Astronomical Society
For those with a particular interest in astronomy and astrophysics, explore the offerings of the Royal Astronomical Society. In particular, they have good resources around education, outreach and diversity, and generally have plenty of public lectures, some of which have also been filmed and are available online. They also have a new monthly podcast, Supermassive, co-hosted by Oxford astrophysicist Dr Becky Smethurst.
The Royal Institution is another all-science society based in London. Famed for its family-friendly Christmas Lectures (which are still brilliant and informative, however old you are), they also run Masterclasses around the country on maths, engineering and computer science. Their YouTube channel is a favourite of our access officer – loads of lectures and a million interesting things.
The Royal Society is one of the foremost science societies in the UK, having been founded in 1660 as a "College for the Promoting of Physico-Mathematical Experimental Learning" (and finally admitting women as fellows in 1945). They usually host a lot of events, many in London but some elsewhere too. They also have a popular YouTube channel, which in addition to short videos features some of their previous events for a more in-depth examination of a topic.
physics-in-advent.org: Physics in Advent is an Advent calendar with a difference. Each day from 1st to 24th December there is a video clip of an experiment which you can do yourself. You then answer the questions on the website and watch a video of the solution. Prizes are available. The project is run by the University of Göttingen.