Films for Science Teachers

I have written, produced and directed a number of educational TV series, ranging in subject matter from a history of particle physics to key ideas covered in GCSE Science. Below are a selection of videos I’ve developed and produced to help science teachers with the effective use of demonstrations and practical work as part of their lessons. Most of the films were made with my friend Jonathan Sanderson of StoryCog.

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  • Simple Convection Demo

    Simple Convection Demo

    Demo films

    This is a cheap, elegant way to demonstrate convection which can be used with a “predict, observe, explain” approach when teaching.

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  • How do we know what stars are made of?

    How do we know what stars are made of?

    Demo films

    Dr Francisco Diego uses a range of demonstrations to show us how scientists can confidently tell us what stars are made of.

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  • Measuring “g” Practical

    Measuring “g” Practical

    Demo films

    How to get the most out of a simple A-level core practical to find the acceleration due to gravity

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  • Circular Motion Demo with Sparkler

    Circular Motion Demo with Sparkler

    Demo films

    Short film on how to demonstrate that the velocity of an object moving in uniform circular motion is always at a tangent to the circle

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  • Making effective use of practical work

    Making effective use of practical work

    Demo films, Practical Work

    Short film on how to get the most out of practical work in school science lessons.

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  • Photosynthesis with Cabomba

    Photosynthesis with Cabomba

    Demo films, Practical Work

    Short film showing how cabomba pondweed can be used to investigate or demonstrate photosynthesis. More details from the Science and Plants for Schools website.

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  • Photosynthesis with Algal Balls

    Photosynthesis with Algal Balls

    Demo films, Practical Work

    How to use ‘algal balls’ in a variety of ways to investigate photosynthesis. Further details available from the Science and Plants for Schools Website.

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  • Cauliflower Cloning

    Cauliflower Cloning

    Demo films, Practical Work

    This film shows a reliable method for cloning cauliflowers that is a great improvement on previous techniques used in schools. More details at the Science and Plants for Schools website.

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  • How to prepare the growth medium for cauliflower cloning

    How to prepare the growth medium for cauliflower cloning

    Demo films, Practical Work

    Short film showing how to prepare the agar growth medium for carrying out the cauliflower cloning practical. Further details available at the Science and Plants for Schools website.

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  • Why is science important?

    Why is science important?

    Demo films, Film

    In this film, I set out to uncover a genuinely satisfying answer to my students’ most common question: why is science important? The film is essentially a summary of the responses collected to this question at the website www.whyscience.co.uk

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  • Demo: The Movie

    Demo: The Movie

    Demo films

    This film follows science teacher Alom Shaha as he goes on a journey to explore the use of demonstrations in science teaching. The film tells an interesting story and is primarily intended to encourage secondary science teachers to think about how and why they use demonstrations in their teaching.

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  • Jelly Baby Wave Machine

    Jelly Baby Wave Machine

    Demo films

    This film shows how to construct a “jelly baby wave machine” – a fun way to introduce and demonstrate the properties of waves to students. This video has been popular with teachers all over the world and been directly responsible for introducing this demonstration to a large number of Physics teachers who now use it […]

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  • Pearls of water

    Pearls of water

    Demo films

    This video demonstrates how to set up and show the classic “pearls in air” demonstration which is useful for teaching about the independence of horizontal and vertical motion in projectile motion.

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  • The Monkey and the Hunter

    The Monkey and the Hunter

    Demo films

    This is another classic demonstration that is useful when teaching projectile motion. Click here for further notes on how to set it up.

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  • The photoelectric effect

    The photoelectric effect

    Demo films

    Simple demonstration and explanation of the photoelectric effect.

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  • How to make a capacitor

    How to make a capacitor

    Demo films

    How to make a capacitor from a bin bag and some tin foil – an excellent demonstration to show how a capacitor is constructed and works.

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  • Electron diffraction

    Electron diffraction

    Demo films

    How to demonstrate electron diffraction in class.

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  • Iodine clock demonstration

    Iodine clock demonstration

    Demo films

    How to carry out the classic “iodine clock” demonstration in Chemistry.

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  • Electromagnetic induction

    Electromagnetic induction

    Demo films

    A suggested approach to introduce electromagnetic induction.

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  • The electric sausage

    The electric sausage

    Demo films

    The “electric sausage” – a great demo for a lesson on static electricity.

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  • Van de Graaff Generator

    Van de Graaff Generator

    Demo films

    Detailed look at how to use a Van de Graaf machine and explanation of how it works.

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  • Collapsing can

    Collapsing can

    Demo films

    How to perform the classic ‘collapsing can” demonstration and use an accompanying demonstration to get more out of it.

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  • ‘Chip pan fire’ demo

    ‘Chip pan fire’ demo

    Demo films

    “Chip pan fire” demonstration to teach about safety when heating oil.

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  • Getting the most out of practical work

    Getting the most out of practical work

    Demo films

    Short film looking at how science teachers can use practical work most effectively

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  • Magical Balancing Can

    Magical Balancing Can

    Demo films

    Simple demo to introduce the idea that an object will topple over if the line of action of its weight lies outside its base. I usually present it as a challenge: I start off with two identical (apparently) empty drink cans on my desk (yes, I know the ones in the video have slightly different […]

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  • The Shadow of a Flame

    The Shadow of a Flame

    Demo films

    Simple way to demonstrate how light is absorbed by a hot gas – a good way to introduce the teaching of absorption spectra

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  • Simple Accelerometer

    Simple Accelerometer

    Demo films

    How to use a simple floating cork accelerometer to show the direction of acceleration in circular motion.

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  • Quick and slow melting ice

    Quick and slow melting ice

    Demo films

    This thermal conductivity demonstration can be surprising and counterintuitive for students and is a great way to develop or test their ideas about energy transfers between objects.

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  • How arches work

    How arches work

    Demo films

    Science communicator Dr Ben Craven shows us a surprising demo involving arches which reveals why they work even if the bricks they’re made of aren’t stuck together.

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  • How to use a multimeter to measure voltage

    How to use a multimeter to measure voltage

    Demo films

    Physics teacher Ronan McDonald demonstrates how to use a multimeter to measure voltage

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  • How to use a multimeter to measure current

    How to use a multimeter to measure current

    Demo films

    Physics teacher Ronan McDonald demonstrates how to use a multimeter to measure current

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  • Pluck Dissection

    Pluck Dissection

    Demo films

    How to carry out a pluck dissection in Biology lessons.

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  • Adam Little Mar 16, 2014 Reply

    i have viewed these and have used some in the classroom. It has also prompted discussions with colleagues about how demos were presented to students and the reasoning behind why we use them. I’d like to think more are being produced.

  • Alex Weatherall Mar 16, 2015 Reply

    I had the pleasure of watching Alom and Jonathan work on a couple of these videos under the supportive eye of David Sang. The care and attention to detail in both the production values and the physics teaching ideas that can be gleaned from these videos is a testament to how hard Alom and his colleagues work on them.
    Demo the movie is a brilliant call to arms to help science teachers see the benefits of science demonstrations in the classroom. To my shame I still don’t do enough but these videos help inspire me to try new ideas out.

  • naomi whitehead Apr 3, 2015 Reply

    Gorgeous videos from passionate science educators. Thank you.

  • Matthew Llewellin Apr 3, 2015 Reply

    These videos are a fantastic resource for teachers and for use in the classroom with students. The monkey-hunter demo is a tough one to get right, and so having the intricate detail provided in the video here is an excellent option to clearly demonstrate the physics to the students.

    After watching the bin-bag capacitor and jelly-baby wave machine videos, we immediately set about making them. The bin-bag capacitor now sits as a mainstay practical for the Y13s – who love to see the sparks (!) and also much more clearly envisage the construction of a capacitor. Likewise, the Y9s get to see the wave machine when they begin to study waves – and it is a great way to demonstrate wave movement, especially in contrast to the slinky model. Moreover, the wave machine is used regularly in our open days – everyone getting something from it.

    I look forward to utilizing Alom’s videos more and more. His explanations are clear and succinct, and the video style is simple and easy to access for all. It’s a difficult thing to do well, and he does just that!

  • Helen Rogerson Apr 3, 2015 Reply

    Your videos of demonstrations have been very useful. I know of experienced technician who have used your monkey and hunter video to support them in getting the demo to work. In the past few years I have found myself without an experienced physics technician and as a result having to set up my own demonstrations, your capacitor video gave me confidence to try this. The jelly bean wave machine was something new to me when I saw the video and is now a firm favourite. I hope you will continue to make more videos like this, showing teachers how to successfully demonstrate physics concepts in their classrooms.

  • Rebecca Godar Apr 4, 2015 Reply

    These videos are a great resource for science teachers wanting to try something new. If you were inspired by Demo the Movie, then the rest of the videos give you specific examples of good things to try in the classroom.

    The explanations are clear and Alom’s presentation style is engaging – you can tell it is something he cares about deeply. We’ve had a go at making chemistry demo videos, so we know how hard it can be, and these guys do a great job.

  • Tom Sherrington Apr 4, 2015 Reply

    Alom’s work first caught my attention via an article and video in the Guardian where he was asking ‘Are school science practicals a complete waste of time?’. That’s a massively challenging question and one that, as a science teacher, I had considered often but not really acted on. The power of a demo has been neglected in my practice and, thanks to Alom, I’ve really thought hard about when to do a demo instead of trotting out a well-worn practical without considering the focus of the learning. I’ve found the examples of demos presented by Alom and his colleagues to be very useful indeed – I’ve used the collapsing can several times now and the others have been very helpful in clarifying my understanding of where to focus students’ attention. Too often I”ve had snatched practice sessions with technicians just prior to using some new equipment (or busked it in the lesson) – these videos are a fantastic resource to help teachers like me to do a better job and to get a discussion going in the Science department.

  • These videos are excellent resources for science teacher education. I showed Demo: The Movie to my introductory science teaching class this term, using it as a centrepiece for our discussion on effective demonstrations. The film is engaging and fun while also being very true to the research literature. It really helps beginning teachers see how important it is to think carefully about their demonstrations to create meaningful experiences for their students. Several students told me that they’d forgotten how wonderful a great demonstration could be and that they have been inspired to try more demos with their high school classes while on their next practice teaching experience. Thanks Alom for creating such a great resource!

  • Andy Owen Apr 10, 2015 Reply

    These videos are inspiring. They illustrate the best in science demos and are something to aspire to. They can be used with the kids to refresh their memories or flip a lesson, they can be used with staff to show how to do it and with technicians to go over the safety features and the points you’re trying to get across. They show all the stuff we try to do on a busy term and new things to try or we are sometimes too busy to set up. They are a treasure and I hope continue to be added to. The quality is second to none and the calm and reflective persona of all the presenters is a pleasure to perceive.

  • Mary Mullaghy May 2, 2015 Reply

    I first stumbled across Alom on line watching his video on ‘Why is Science Important?’ I was so impressed by his presentation style that I invited him to speak at the Irish Science Teachers’ Association National Conference in Trinity College in 2012. He was a huge hit and we have subsequently invited him back again on various occasions.
    Although I am a chemistry teacher myself and would only have basic physics I think that he make the subject very accessible and inspires you to want to know more. His passion for physics and his engaging communication style makes all his videos very addictive.
    Keep up the great work Alom – science education needs more people like you!

  • David Cotton Feb 27, 2016 Reply

    Thanks Alom for taking the time to not only make the videos, but putting them in one handy place. I have got so much mileage from the jelly baby wave machine I first saw as one of your videos. I have tried most of them. I had forgotten about the shadow of a flame demo and I am currently teaching spectra. I’ll give that a go this coming week.

  • David Cotton Feb 27, 2016 Reply

    Watching the Pearls of Water and see how you make the tube has reminded me of a demo I have thought about setting up before. It is an ultrasound detector using a thin flame.

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