Terminal Velocity Skydiving Video – GCSE Physics

As part of GCSE Physics students learn the idea of an object that reaches terminal velocity when it is moving in a fluid. A great demonstration of this idea is through the example of objects in free fall. And what better object to think this idea through than a skydiver!

The embedded video bring this idea to life. Velocity values of an actual skydiver are given through the different phases of the journey. Right at the very start when the diver jumps off, the weight is the only force acting on the vertical plane. By using Newton’s 2nd law you can work out that the acceleration is all due to gravity at that point. As the diver gains speed due to this acceleration, the air resistance (or drag) also increases. Now the resultant force downwards is smaller and so is the acceleration. Nonetheless there is acceleration downwards and the velocity is still increasing. Eventually the drag increases so much that it is enough to counteract the weight. At this point the forces are balanced and the acceleration is zero. But by this point the diver has a substantial velocity. As such the diver will continue in free fall at a constant velocity. This is what is known as the terminal velocity.

Once the parachute is deployed, the drag increases and the resultant force is now upwards as the drag is more than the weight. This causes deceleration. At the same time the reduced velocity decreases the drag. But there is still deceleration so the diver keeps slowing down. Until the point when the drag is once again equal to the weight. The diver then reaches a second terminal velocity.

This is all explained in the video as well. So hit play on the video and be taken on a skydiving ride joined up with Physics revision. Good luck to all the Physics students taking their exams tomorrow.

Independent Tutors Meetup – 8 July 2017 London

After a break we are back for another meet-up! The independent tutors community in the UK is slowly growing to become a force in its own right and gaining recognition. Working for yourself as an independent tutor can be a lonely job and even if you put all your effort into providing the best possible service, it is always invaluable to know how others manage the teaching and business part of their tutoring.

Tutors meetup Hyde Park London

Tutors meetup Hyde Park London

This is open to all tutors, independent or tutoring for an agency. The Serpentine Cafe is in a great location inside the vast expanse of green in Hyde Park next to a lake. There’s food, drinks and snacks available at the cafe. We usually sit on the grass or at one of the benches on the outdoor area of the cafe. Nearest tube stations are Hyde Park Corner, Knightsbridge and Marble Arch.

Looking forward to meeting you and feel free to contact me if you want more info or to let me know you are coming 🙂

National Grid – Live Data

During my online GCSE Physics tutoring sessions I mention how Electricity is made. And a key extension to that is also how electricity is distributed. The system is called the National Grid and is Great Britain’s electrical transmission and distribution system. In my 2nd year Summer Engineering placement I worked for an electrical distribution company and visited substations.

The National Grid and pumped storage are both part of GCSE Physics, albeit module P1 for AQA Physics, for which the exams have already been and gone in 2017.

Nonetheless the following website is absoltuely amazing in giving you a live up date on nationwide electrical production. It gives you a live pie chart on the different sources of energy, and the distribution of renewable vs non renewable. Not only that but it also gives you an indication on how much pumped storage electricity is available. Pumped storage is in the Physics syllabus as well.

Some other pretty cool things you can see are that there are direct electricity lines between the UK, France and Holland. That way electricity can both be imported and exported.

So click on this link here and check out what’s happening in terms of the National Grid right now.

National Grid : Live Status

Mendel and his peas – GCSE Biology

It is the GCSE Biology exam for my AQA students tomorrow. And one of the key topics in the B2 part of the syllabus is on Genetics and the work of Gregor Mendel. Mendel was an Austrian monk and Biologist in the 19th century. Mendel was very systematic and methodical in his experiments with peas. He was able to work out that traits can be inherited by future generations. And that there are dominant and recessive characteristics. We know these as alleles now.

This short 3 minute video is a great introduction into Punnett squares and the basics of genetic inheritance. Mendel was a pioneer of his time as we didn’t know about DNA or Chromosomes in the 19th century. The animations of the peas in this video are also very engaging and funny.

Rutherford’s Gold Scattering Experiment for GCSE Science

It was quite the most incredible event that has ever happened to me in my life. It was almost as incredible as if you fired a 15-inch shell at a piece of tissue paper and it came back and hit you.

– Ernest Rutherford

Being able to write out the key results of Rutherford, Marsden and Muller’s famous gold leaf scattering experiment is one of the requirements of the GCSE Physics syllabus. It comes up both in AQA and iGCSE Edexcel that I regularly tutor every year. This is usually accompanied by a comparison with the older “Plum Pudding” model of the atom. On this particular post I have embedded an invaluable video that I use for my online Physics tutoring sessions. A must watch for a deeper understanding of Rutherford’s experimental set up and his findings.

Gold leaf nucleus

Writing out the correct answer on a test is one thing, and understanding the human story of ingenuity, perseverance and scientific intuition is another. We tend to learn things better when they are presented as stories and great breakthroughs often challenge the status quo of the time. What he found was mind boggling at the time, and even today it is hard to imagine how empty an atom actually is.

In this BBC documentary Professor Jim Al Khalili visits the actual laboratory in Manchester where Rutherford got his two assistants to explore the atom in detail. He shows the actual equipment used and the story of how one seemingly random decision by Rutherford ended up unraveling the mystery of the atom. The video is part of a BBC series called Atom. A must watch for all GCSE students with the key part being from 17:30 to 25:07. The video auto-starts at this point on this link. So press play and be taken on a journey of the most important chapter in the discovery of the inner workings of the atom.

Extraction of metals and the Bronze Age

The reactivity of the metals determines how abundantly they are found on the earth. And an appreciation of their reactivity gives us a timeline of our own development as a species. A study of the reactivity of metals is also a study of very own history. This part of AQA and Edexcel GCSE is one I go through with students all the time. How the Bronze age started and then the Iron Age. All linked to the reactivity series.

Early Bronze Age Tools

Pre-historic humans used stone tools and items in their day to day lives. Tool making was a big deal indeed. But we couldn’t have known of metals besides silver and gold as they were all locked away in unrecognisable oxide form.

A most remarkable discovery moved us from the Stone Age period into the Bronze age. Bronze is an alloy (mixture of metals) of Copper and Tin. And copper would have been found as copper ore in nature. An accidental hot fire near a copper ore in the presence of coal (which contains Carbon, which is more reactive than Copper) would have revealed copper’s true existence. The Carbon reduced the Copper Oxide into Copper. A beautiful gold like substance, soft and malleable. It must have been an extraordinary discovery of its time and it changed the game for humans. We were now able to make much much more sophisticated tooling, ornaments and jewelry. It was the first metal we discovered and set us on a path to more discoveries later.

Here are a couple of great videos that show how a green ore of Copper called Malachite can easily be reduced into Copper. The implications of discovering Copper, and how it was a prime trade item are shown on the videos.

This is a superb resource for GCSE AQA Chemistry students studying the C2 module, or the iGCSE Edexcel 1C modules, both of which I tutor. And if as a student you are feeling bogged down by learning cold facts, then these videos will bring it all to life again.

Do you have any thoughts on the magic of Copper? Feel free to comment 🙂

Passing the apex of the tutoring year

I seem to say this every year, and like last year this year is no exception. This is the busiest time of tuition all year round for me. I tutor consistently 7 days a week from about March. And I have finally passed the peak of the tuition demand period. This has given me some well needed rest and a little time for reflection before I jump into the next peak of the final Summer half tuition period.

Last Wednesday were the GCSE, iGCSE, Functional Skills maths exams all in one day. Preceded by Physics GCSE and A Level Core 2 on the Tuesday. I was also mentoring and preparing a student for another subject and that too ended on Thursday morning.

Atul Rana

Caught up with a couple of other tutor friends before the Easter holidays.

And that’s just tuition with my students. In the tutoring world I run the Maths Tutors UK Facebook group, along with a few other tutor networking projects where I hold a collaborative space for other tutors. I also organise real life meetups with tutors which are an excellent social space in an otherwise lonely profession. I am getting more and more involved with The Profs and BitPaper Whiteboard who have a great forward thinking and innovative team of tutors.

It has been a really inspiring and intense year so far. Online tuition has worked out like a charm and Dyscalculia tutoring has turned out to be one of the most satisfying things I have ever done. It is all rewarding work and the longer, warmer days in May make it perfect for doing these longer hours.

I post fairly regularly on my Facebook Page, so do join or follow me there. Or even my twitter account. And for all my friends who have been trying to get me out and about to socialise or to music gigs, I promise I will get out of being a hermit stage and catch up with you very soon 🙂


How is electricity made?

Electricity. We all use it daily but how is it actually made and where does it come from? Tutoring how electricity is made is one of my favorite parts of teaching Physics. In this BBC video you will see a couple of young children being shown around a power station, and then seeing an excellent, clear demo of a kettle, a turbine and magnets that show how a power station actually works.

How is electricity made? – BBC Education

Steam Turbine

Steam Turbine

When I was 18 I was sponsored by Rolls Royce’s Industrial Power Generation branch of companies, and I took a year out with them before joining university at 19 as a first year. That year turned out to be an invaluable experience and it has come in so very handy when tutoring. I worked in a steam turbine and diesel engine factory, WH Allen of Bedford. And then a year later I worked for an electrical power generators and transformers company. I got to know a lot about power generation at a young age.

Making electricity is no magic though, and relies on some simple part of Physics all coming together. Amazingly this video is pitched for primary school children, but in reality it is invaluable during my online GCSE Physics tuition sessions. The kids are transported by curios cat the narrator to a gas-powered power plant. They get to see how a boiler, steam turbine and a generator work through a simple demo of a kettle boiling steam into a bunch of spoons set up as rotating vanes. There’s also a simple demo of electromagnetic induction using magnets, a conductor and a LED lamp.

So if you are preparing for your GCSE exam, or are just curious to how electricity is made, then click away on the link above and start your journey!


From Iron Ore to Steel Biscuit Tins

A couple of Welsh children, the animated curious cat, Fur Elise by Beethoven, blast furnaces, biscuit tins, 3rd year undergraduates, iron ore and GCSE Chemistry. What’s all this about? And how can this help with your Chemistry revision?

Picture courtesy of BBC

Blast Furnace and Iron Extraction

There are some superb educational videos out there that I use for my tutoring resources when tutoring Science online, and this one linked below is one of my absolute favourites!

How are biscuit tins made?

The extraction of iron from iron ore in a blast furnace followed by its conversion into steel is a well known process in the industrial world. And what better way to appreciate this than to see for real how this process happens? This video comes in very handy to me when I am tutoring GCSE Chemistry online. In particular the C1 and C2 modules for AQA Science. Also for the iGCSE Edexcel Chemistry syllabus.

But this video, which is made for primary school children is very versatile indeed. I first used this with a Materials Engineering undergraduate in his third year when we were doing rolling mill calculations for hot steel slabs. The calculations were very complex and at times I felt that we were losing track of what the point of the calculations were. So as always I found a video of the whole steel plate manufacturing process, starting from iron ore, going to the blast iron furnace, then going to the blast oxygen furnace, hot rolling of slabs, cold rolling of slabs, to eventually making the tins.

A couple of Welsh children ask the curios cat in this video on how biscuit tins are made. They are transported to a journey where they steel plants and tin factories. So click on the link above and get transported yourself. The music is very good too, especially at the end with Beethoven’s Fur Elise.

Easter tuition 2017 and the payoff to go all Online

I have come out of the other side, the Easter tuition period is by far the busiest time of year for me. I first experiened this during the Easter holiday period of 2007, and some of the work I did at the time has led to work even to this very Easter holiday. Amazing how far and long word of mouth can go!

BitPaper Whiteboard Maths Tuition Atul Rana Tutors

Using BitPaper for online tutoring. I love this whiteboard!

Since then, I have gotten busier and busier at Easter. The Easter season is a really intense period of tuition for me, but also very rewarding. I am at my most present, focused and dedicated. I manage all my tuition, client feedback, enquries and admin. I tutor all 7 days a week, and while Sundays can be up to 3 or 4 hours a day, my other days are all more than 6 hours, typically 7 hours or more.

Last Summer I took the plunge and decided only to tutor online from now on. Inevitably I lost a small fraction of my in person clients as some of them were not keen to try out the new medium. But as planned the opening I made for new online clients paid off very well indeed. I had a slow start in September and October and panic somewhat set in at the time, as after all I was used to being booked solid pretty much all year round. But it has all worked out. This time all over the world, and now I can claim to be a truly global tutor. At Easter I tutored students in Singapore, Malaysia, India, Spain, UAE, Baharain and Canada. I tutored students going to British Schools abroad and somehow my own story of growing up in different countries and going to a British school in Kenya has resonated with my new clients and students.

Hanging out with my client’s horse. Dave is relaxed 🙂

There were days I finished tutoring and couldn’t believe how just with one click I can travel to a new country, a new world, different weather, time zone and accents. A slice of being in a different space and part of the world is now instantly available to me, and I feel I have transcended the limits of geography in many ways. I am fortuante to be in this position and my calculated gamble to go all online has well and truly paid off. There is no better valididation of that during the Easter tuition period. I’ve made gambles and trade offs like this before, and it takes a little time for the results to come through fully. I’ve certainly tutored more hours this Easter than ever, but the great thing is that it does not feel like it. With no commute, and from the comfort of my own home I’ve been a lot more relaxed this time of the year.

Despite the full move to online tuition, I have kept going to Yorkshire to see a couple of families to tutor. It was amazing to go there again, and although I have been tutoring 7 days a week flat out, including in Yorkshire, it was great to have a break away from London. I went for walks and had some great dinner time conversations with my clients. Easter is a great season to see tiny lambs running around and bleating, so it’s been great to reconnect with nature’s cycle. 2017 marks my 10th Year of going to one family in the Yorkshire Dales who are like my second home there. I go there in the Summer holidays to visit as well.

This is Charlie the Ram. Met him in Yorkshire as well 🙂

The ball is well and truly in motion for my continued move to online tuition, and next year things will get even better. Although I’m still tutoring every day in May, the hours are reduced now and I’ve had a refreshing break with friends and family. One last push for the busy exam period of May and June and then a nice Summer off, both for me and my students 🙂