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10 top free resources for teaching physics to kids

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Imperial College physics student Catherine shares the best online resources for learning about physics:

  1. The Institute of Physics and is great for learning about lots of aspects of physics. I especially like the teaching astronomy section which has lots of fantastic videos aimed at 11-16 year olds. Physics tutors are often asked: “how can I get my son/daughter excited about science?” I say start here! These videos are are great for grabbing kids’ imaginations.image
  2. The Physics classroom covers a lot of key physics material syllabus that is certain to come up in exams. I particularly like the introduction into waves. More advanced students have plenty of scope to learn too, which is perfect for continuing their interest. Good to note that it is also available on iBook and iPad.
  3. Top Marks is a resource for 9 to 11-year-olds and perfect for help with the 11 plus. The site is designed with fun colourful games to engage kids in learning about science and enable a continued interest in the subject. I have linked a game that teaches about solids, liquids and gases but you can search the site for other interactive games.
  4. My Physics is a fantastic GCSE physics site that goes through each topic for Physics GCSE revision. It’s highly interactive, colourful and easy to use. I’m excited about the promised A-level section - coming soon!
  5. Purely GCSE revision with past papers and resources to look up when you are stuck, GCSE.com makes sure you have covered everything. Their very simple diagrams that provide a new way at looking at topics, which may be more intuitive for your child.image
  6. I love the website school physics for its fabulous animations to illustrate key physics ideas. There is an extensive number of them and they are all very simple and easy to use.
  7. Discovery Education is great for tutors and teachers as it has full lesson plans for different topics. Well worth a look through if you find yourself getting stuck on how to approach a topic.
  8. The Science Museum is not only a great museum (that happens to be next to Imperial,) but also an inspiring online resource. There is a comprehensive section on climate change and policy.  If it grabs the kids’, and your, attention why not turn the online learning into a day out and visit the museum. It’s free! image
  9. My list would not be complete without mentioning the wonderful Khan Academy. It was started by Khan uploading videos to Youtube as a means to teach his niece, who lived far away. Before too long his videos had gone viral and if you take a peak at the physics videos, you’ll see why.
  10. Now that we have caught the kids’ attention… Let your child get stuck into these MIT University online courses and the sky is the limit. Happy learning!

Beat the Summer Slide!

Summer Slide; what’s that, then? The latest playground instalment, perhaps? A new water park feature? Sounds fun; somewhere the little ones (and bigger ones) can entertain themselves and burn off some of that energy when you’re wondering what on earth to do with them now and counting down the days until term starts again…

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Unfortunately, the Summer Slide is none of these things. It’s a term coined by educational psychologist Harris Cooper, who found that US schoolchildren regress in all subjects over the summer holidays, by an average of a month – a whopping 2.6 months in maths.

Many will protest that the kids need a bit of R&R just now (especially if you’ve just gone through the agony of June exams). But for those experiencing a tremor of despair at the thought of all that algebra, so painfully installed in the offspring’s head, just trickling out again like sand from a leaky bucket: here are some tips for parents and tutors, to retain some learning over the summer.

 1.      Play not work

Summer learning should be fun. Whether you’re educating your children yourself, or enlisting the help of a nanny or tutor, take the lessons outside the classroom and discover activities that your child will enjoy. Find out about next year’s curriculum; just hearing about a topic in advance helps pupils to learn it quickly in the classroom. Create a treasure hunt with subject-specific clues – this has the added advantage of keeping them occupied for some time, depending on how tricky the questions are.

 2.      Riveting Reading

Cooper found that the poorest children lose the most reading skills, while those better off actually improved over the summer. The long summer break can be an opportunity for children to discover reading. Be inventive; even the most reluctant reader just need the right trigger. 

For the tech-savvy paper-phobic child: I know a mother who bought a £30 Kobo from WHSmith, as a last-ditch attempt to get her 10-year-old reading. The child was instantly engrossed, constantly pestering her for more and more and more ebooks. The Kobo is now adorned all over with stickers, and the young girl’s prize possession. You could try the Summer Reading Challenge, which rewards children with stickers and certificates, or the Reading Chest – lovefilm for books, from under £10/month for up to 6 books a month.

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 3.      Marvellous Maths

-Adapt recipe quantities while cooking to familiarise children with dividing, multiplying and using fractions. These questions crop up everywhere from primary school to GCSE Maths.

-Next time you’re begged for a trip to Thorpe Park, ask your child to calculate the cost for the whole family. For the cash-strapped parent, this might have benefits beyond maths practice!

-When your 6-year-old asks, again, how long till his best friend arrives: ask him to work out the time in hours and minutes (or days and hours, depending on how early the excitement starts to build…) Young children find time calculations a challenge, counting in a base of 60 instead of the normal 10s and 100s.

-Children are natural entrepreneurs: if it would be safe and you can keep an eye on them, a home-made lemonade stall requires plenty of maths practice. Just keep an eye on the recipe to make sure they produce something drinkable! Ask them to calculate the profit margin and hourly earnings - useful to know when employing a younger sibling…

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-Puzzles like Kakuro and Calcudoku are a god-send to get children doing the four main operations (+, -, x, ÷) really quickly. It’s amazing how much even teenagers can benefit!

 4.      Whirlwind Writing

-Long car journey? As a pre-teen with 3 younger siblings, I had a whole series of car-time tales about Ruthy the rat who rode the tube around London with her ratty friends. Kill two birds with one stone: encouraging your children to pass the time telling stories develops their linguistic creativity as well as stopping them from pinching each other, kicking your seat and dropping banana skins down the driver’s neck (yes, I’m afraid we were that awfu). You can offer a prize for the best story.

-Sign up to Creative Writing 4 Kids (£4.99/month, first month free) where children write their own online book for themselves and their friends.

-Postcards are a cheap, appealing way of getting a child to pen a few lines to a friend.

 5.      Super Science

-Normally forbidden, night-time activities have a special thrill. Take your child outside on the 26th July to see the next New Moon (if you miss that one, you could start with the full moon on 10th August). Repeat every 7 days to see the whole cycle - or go more often to observe the gibbous and crescent moons. Check the moon phases and rising times. This summer’s full moons are perigee moons, so they will be even brighter!

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-Take advantage of the British summer weather: after the next rain shower, draw chalk circles round a few puddles, to observe the water cycle. Even in our damp conditions, your child will see evaporation in action as the puddle shrinks.

-In the garden or park, ask your child to collect small (one leaf is good) samples from different plant species. Go over these samples together, discussing differences and similarities, and why one plant is classed as a different species from another.

 6.      Ghastly guilt-trips (for working parents)

If you’re reading all this wondering how on earth you could abandon your precious children for upwards of 8hrs a day, when clearly you should be at home educating them… Don’t beat yourself up. Children are remarkably good at learning in different environments with different people, and if you can afford some extra help, a tutor could be just what they need to inject some educational fun into the holidays. This doesn’t mean someone who will sit at home forcing algebra over the kitchen table! Most tutors are, by now, as fed up of painful exam-cramming as you and your children, and will be only too happy to rediscover the joy of learning over summer. If a tutor’s rate seems a bit steep for taking your children to the Science Museum all day, don’t be afraid to ask (politely!) about a possible discount; this is the tutor’s quietest time of year, and the work is much more enjoyable than chemistry cramming.

Some families even take a tutor away on holiday with them. While this will add considerably to the holiday’s price tag, it can be a fantastic way to keep up your childrens’ learning and physical activity, while you get to recover and relax over a cocktail… The usual arrangement is to cover all expenses and pay a rate equivalent to 4 hours a day, with additional payment if more teaching hours are required; but if the tutor has no other work on and you mostly want educational fun rather than formal lessons, you may be able to drive a bargain.

Check out some of our best-value tutors for the summer:

Egypt                                           James N                                      Mathilde

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Joe L                                                Carmela                               Sam W

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How to prepare for the 11+ exam

20 of London’s top tutors got together today to pool their knowledge of the 11+ entrance exams.  Which are the top schools, how do they test maths and English, what are parents and students asking and how can tutors help students prepare?

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Above shows Mark Maclaine doing a concise 20minutes on the psychology of how students learn.  He explained presence, the zone of proximal development and other key concepts in ways everyone could go on to explain to their tutees.  “One of the great ways to unlock learning is to help someone understand how they learn.” Mark

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"Totally eye-opening experience, I’ve been tutoring for 10 years and I learnt more about the 11+ exam today than I ever knew before." - Joe

“Great day! Thanks a lot!!!” - Ria

“Interesting and rewarding. More of these in the future please.” - Atul
Watch out for blogs to follow on the many 11+ tips and hints that have come out of today!
Many thanks to these tutors for their support and feedback:

Madeleine K

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Phineas P

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James R

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Frank I

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Raphael O

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Sawan S

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Samantha S

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Stuart M

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Joe N

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Felicity D

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Ria T

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Atul R

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William R

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Tony D

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Melanie A

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Alex L

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Matthew S

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Tom L

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Radha S

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Alexis S

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John N

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Lia T

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Tutor Stories: Jose volunteering at Pimlico

Tutorfair’s vision is that for every student who pays, we give tutoring to children who can’t afford it. Some of our tutors deliver this life changing tuition in inner-city schools. You can read about their stories here.

I started helping as a volunteer assistant in Pimlico Academy three weeks ago and the experience cannot have been more exciting and engaging.

As a teacher looking for experience in the UK system I completely enjoyed the open collaboration among the teachers of the Modern Foreign Languages Department. I really appreciated their diverse experience with students and their abilities to manage different profiles.

Helping students to prepare to their final exams has been one of the most interesting experiences I have ever done in my career. There were hard days and hard hours; it was never an easy task to help students to develop in a different language that it will help them in the future to find a job; but it was enjoyable. Motivation is always the teachers ́ task. I learned that in Pimlico. It is in our hands to help students to be better, to support them to face the world.

To view Jose’s profile, please follow this link

Science Box - The wonders of the rainforest for 11-14 year olds

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Tutorfair are very proud to announce they are sponsoring Science Box – a series of interactive science-based workshops for 11-14 year olds in London. Bookings are now open for Science Box’s two forthcoming ‘Rainforest Uncovered’ events in the capital, which take place on 21st July at the Dunraven School in Lambeth, and 22nd July at Beormund Community Centre in Southwark.

Having recently returned from a trip to the Peruvian Amazon, the founder Deepesh Patel, has become intent on demonstrating to young children across the country that science, in reality, goes far beyond laboratories, formulae and, as he puts it, “wearing white lab coats”. Despite having travelled to one of Earth’s most diverse ecosystems, he suggests that it was actually when a young pupil from County Durham told him how he had inspired her to pursue sciences onto further education at college which gave him the motivation to set about executing the project.

'Rainforest Uncovered' will take place on two dates in July in South London, and both events look set to be packed full of interactive, informative and fun-filled science-based workshops. Delivered by an assortment of some of the most engaging and effective science communicators in the UK, the days will consist of a variety of different activities. These will range from extracting chemicals from rainforest plants to test for their medicinal properties, through debating the likely fate of the Amazon's native peoples, to making synthetic rubber out of household items and establishing the eating patterns of live crickets. Whilst fun, these activities will provide ample problem-solving opportunities for the pupils, and will aim to challenge their established ideas and perspectives throughout the day.

Details are as follows:

Age: 11-14 years (year 7-9)
Venue: Dunraven School, Streatham (21st July)
or Beormund Community Centre, Bermondsey (22nd July)
Time9:30 - 16:30 
Light refreshments provided (not lunch)
Cost: £45 for Tutor Fair members (£60 normally)
Discount Code: TUTORFAIR15

To find out more about Science Box, to book onto one of their forthcoming events, or to enquire about staff and relevant qualifications, head to their website: www.sciencebox.org.uk. Alternatively you can phone Science Box on 0203 239 4036 or email them using enquiries@sciencebox.org.uk.

Exam Day Hints

Exam time is here but there’s no need to panic! Our tutors have shared their best exam day tips to get you through this scary time. From everyone at Tutorfair: GOOD LUCK!

1. The night before: go to bed half an hour earlier than usual to wind yourself down ready for a good night’s sleep.

2. In the morning: eat a high protein and complex carbohydrate breakfast. It will release energy slowly through the day, keeping you alert for your exam.

3. Write a list of anything you wish to take with you to the exam in advance. Forgetting even a small thing, such a pre-exam snack, could throw you off course and add to feelings of nerves.

4. Arrive early to your exam venue and don’t speak about the exam topics with your peers. Last -minute discussions about which topics everyone has focused on won’t help and may panic you.

5. Accept those butterflies in your stomach before the exam! Those feelings of nerves are increasing your heart rate, delivering more oxygen to your brain and keeping you alert.

6. When the examiner announces the start there will be a frantic rustling of papers. Don’t dive in with everyone else: wait for the commotion to die down and then calmly turn over your paper. When you see the questions for the first time, you’ll be quiet and focused instead of panicky.

7. Once you’ve warmed up your brain with a few of the easier questions, consider going to the end of the paper and working backwards. Doing the harder questions first, when your brain is fresher, may result in fewer careless mistakes.

8. An old but important favourite: check how many marks are assigned to each question and spend your time accordingly! If it’s a 60-minute exam with 60 marks, you can spend 1 minute on each mark.

9. Jot down any vital equations, facts, quotes or dates at the start while your brain is fresh. As you get more tired you can refer back to them. Anything that takes less than a minute to put down is worth it. Don’t spend too much time though – they might not come up.

10. Don’t waste your energy and confidence on a question that feels insurmountable. Circle it and come back to it later. You might figure it out while filling in the rest of your paper; or a later question may even remind you of the answer.

What’s stopping your students transitioning from 75% to 90%?

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Sithan K, Specialist Maths Tutor

Sithan shares his secret with Tutorfair about how to help maths students avoid ‘silly mistakes’.

Does this sound familiar to you?

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Public School Admission Interview Questions Revealed

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Being a tutoring company with some of Britain’s best educators we have got our hands on the tutor’s holy grail - a certain, very exclusive school’s interview questions for 13+. We have anonymised them but know they will be very helpful with interview season almost upon us.

Enjoy. 

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GCSE History Revision - The February/March Russian Revolution - The impact of the First World War

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History is a cracking subject. It’s full of real-life stories: fascinating and often surprising! History has shaped the world we live in so it is vital for us to learn and reflect upon the events that happened in our past. Russia has had a very turbulent history that hugely influenced international relations in the twentieth century so although it’s rather horrifying to discover what happened (not actually so long ago), its also very interesting.

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Desmond T: Maths, Science and Chess tutor in London

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Desmond T is a maths and science tutor teaching from 11+ up to A Levels. He has tutored for over seven years now - and over 90% of his students have gone on to achieve A or A* at GCSE/A-Level!  He is a graduate in Civil Engineering from Imperial College London whilst being an awesome chess player. Desmond represented England at the World under 12 Youth Chess Championships in Brazil and won the under 18 British Chess Championships at the age of 15.

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