Physics: Year 10 learn about waves and sound vibrations

How good is Luke Quartermaine at hitting an F on the first note playing his trumpet? He was aiming for 349.2Hz … take a look at the oscilloscope screen to see how he did! 
UnknownIn Physics, Year 10 have studied the topic of waves, including an understanding of the frequency of sound vibrations. The oscilloscope trace in yellow shows the shape of the waveform produced by Luke as he played the note.

This complex waveform is more than just an F, since it also has many harmonics at integer (whole number) multiples of the first harmonic. Look at the red trace at the bottom, which displays the frequency spectrum of the sound. You can see how the amplitudes of the harmonics compare with each other (the first eight show clearly as the eight peaks on the left).

Your inner ear has many tiny cells with hairs that vibrate in a fluid, each one responding to a different frequency, just like the red trace on the oscilloscope. The signals sent to the auditory cortex of your brain lead to a perception not of eight sounds, but of a single sound with the distinctive tonal characteristics of Luke’s trumpet playing! The many harmonics also change your perception of the sound, making it appear a lot louder than a simple sine wave of the same amplitude.

Other very different sounds were also analysed, with Vincent Lagos Colombel on the violin and Paddy Watt on drums!

Framlingham College at CERN for the Long Shutdown (1) of the Large Hadron Collider


Following a very early start, Year 13 Physics students flew to Geneva for a whirlwind tour of CERN and the Large Hadron Collider. Our visit coincided with a very special day at CERN – the scheduled Long Shutdown of the LHC for a major upgrade.

We first visited the (very snowy) CERN Globe – an exhibition centre full of high-tech interactive pods on the ‘Universe of Particles’. Following our tour of the Microcosm Museum, housing old detectors and detailing the history of CERN, we were privileged to be able to visit the CERN restaurant, a bustling cosmopolitan environment where we did see working scientists arguing over their equations over a three course lunch.

In the afternoon we were given a brief lecture on the work going on at CERN by a final year PhD student before being taken on a guided tour. We visited the magnet monitoring facility where were able to see the testing of the accelerating magnets used in the LHC and where the next generation of magnets is currently being developed. Our final stop was the ATLAS detector control centre where we saw the post shutdown tests being conducted.

The day showed our students cutting edge research and development and the biggest questions being addressed by this international collaboration of theorists and engineers. The interactive exhibits and knowledgeable guides kept us fully occupied, leaving us time for a brief visit to the shores of Lake Geneva and supper before catching our evening flight back to England.

View the presentation by clicking here

Y11 Students learn the effects of electrostatics

Year 11 students began the topic of electricity by learning about the effects of electrostatics. They investigated the building up of a large static charges using the Van der Graaf generator, with some dramatic displays of the effect of the same sign of charge on each strand of hair. The bright sparks of the class discovered that passing a flow of charge to a friend was a somewhat memorable experience of what an electrical current can do!

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Physics Lecture

On the 15th October selected students from Years 10 and 11 attended the Institute of Physics lecture on sports engineering entitled ‘Physics and the Games’.

The talk was very relevant for current GCSE physics students and we learnt that Usain Bolt could become a record-holding long jumper, and were also told how to increase our chances of becoming the new velodrome king, and even why not to run in shoes!

The formulas and equations were supported with many practicals such as firing a foam ball across the stage and watching our own Jonathan ‘Usain’ Watt with a high-speed camera!

(Report from Will Wright – Y10)

The mathematics and physics of music

Students in the two Year 10 music classes had the opportunity to see the notes they were singing and playing in a lesson looking at the patterns and waves that make up musical notes. This was a cross curricular lesson bringing together music, mathematics, physics and a little biology and psychology.

They looked at the harmonics on a vibrating string, slowed down with a stroboscope, and heard how a sound could be made by mixing sinewaves at harmonic frequencies. With an oscilloscope and a microphone they saw the shape of the sound waves from their voices, and a wide range of musical instruments. At the same time they saw a frequency spectrum showing the balance of different harmonics so they could compare the different instruments and see the difference between their voices, including how they change with volume and timbre in real time. A last challenge was to see if they could sing or play an ‘A’ in tune at 440Hz.

In GCSE Music one of the Musical Elements pupils have to learn about is Timbre and Dynamics and it was felt that learning about the Physics of Music was a great way of helping pupils understand how it all worked.

A fun morning was had by all the year 10 Music Students with the help of Physics teacher, Max Taylor and Director of Music, Tim Rhodes.

Lower sixth physicists studying Newton make light work of gravity

It may be a myth, but the story goes that Sir Isaac Newton was sitting under an apple tree. As one fell on his head, it sparked the inspiration for the beginning of one of the most incredible theories and discoveries about gravity in history. He even invented a new branch of Mathematics to describe rates of change.

Sixth form physicists were making their own discoveries about the centripetal forces needed for the circular motion of a rubber bung on a string. Those brave enough, also put their understanding, and belief, in the theory to the test by showing that water will stay in a bucket (if you get it right!) even when upside down! How is that possible? You would need to ask one of those students to explain the ideas of Newton, gravity and rates of change.

View the photographs here.