When people think about physics, scientists like Einstein will often spring to mind, with gigantic blackboards filled with complicated maths equations. It’s not surprising that this idea makes so many students scared to take physics as a subject. However, with a bit of extra help from a physics tutor, and a less fearful understanding of why physics is a fantastic subject, you can not only pass your physics class but actually enjoy it.
What do you learn in Physics class?
Physics is obviously a science class, but by the time you’re in high school, you have already learnt so much about physics theories without realising it. The main goal of physics is to understand how the universe works.
You know that the Earth rotates on its axis and that the Earth takes a year to move around the sun. Still, you probably don’t know the complex mathematical calculations that were used to prove these facts. Johannes Kepler devised the calculation we call Kepler’s Third Law to prove that planets move around the sun in a particular pattern.
Understanding physics is about understanding how the world works. The theory of relativity equation E = mc2 is beautifully simple. Yet what took Einstein considerable time to calculate now takes physics students one class to understand.
Where do you go if your physics teacher doesn’t make senseWe are lucky in New Zealand to have a really robust education system. However, with so many subjects taken at NCEA level, it can be easy to focus on the topics that we enjoy the most (which are usually the ones that we don’t struggle with) and get further behind on the subjects that we find difficult.
If you find that you’re not keeping up with your physics lessons, it’s time to invest in external physics tuition to help get you back on track. In Tauranga, we have fewer options for large tutoring organisations than perhaps someone in Auckland will. However, throughout the Bay of Plenty, we have great science teachers and tutors who can help explain the complicated areas you are struggling with.
Leap Frog Tuition for Maths Physics & Chemistry
Although based in Tauranga and Hamilton, Leap Frog tuition provides online help for Kiwi high school students. Their education is one-on-one with qualified teaches experienced in the NCEA subject they are teaching.
The main areas are Maths, Physics and Chemistry. Teachers are assigned based on your subject needs matching with the teacher’s subject expertise. The philosophy seems to be to create personalised teaching that works to educate the student, finding the ways to explain concepts that work for you.
The physics levels covered include:
- NCEA Levels 1, 2, 3
- IB Middle Years Programme
- IB Diploma Programme (DP)
- CIE IGCSE, AS and A-Level
Physics Tutors in Tauranga at Superprof
This is where students go when they need help with physics. With tutors based all over New Zealand, you can find the teacher who will be able to help you understand whatever it is you’re struggling with. From students at university who are actively learning just a few levels above where you are currently (so have direct experience of what you are going through) to retired teachers with Masters degrees in Science, Education, and Languages.
One of the advantages of the Superprof model for engaging tutors is the review system. The platform is increasing in popularity in New Zealand, so you will see more and more ‘new’ teachers showing up. Still, there is an abundance of experienced physics tutors who have been teaching via Superprof for years, so they have built up strongly favourable reviews.
As a side note, there is a global element to this platform, so if you are struggling with the New Zealand physic curriculum due to a language barrier, you may find someone who speaks your native tongue to explain the concepts. Just be aware that they may not be familiar with the NZQA curriculum.
Understanding Physics and finding a great tutor in Tauranga
We know that physics is as easy and as complicated as “the meaning of everything”. By understanding theoretical physics, we understand how light works and can grasp the idea of gravity. The science of physics has allowed us to develop nuclear energy, go to space, develop laser surgery, and create sound recording booths.
The language used in physics can be off-putting. But “quantum physics” is really just explaining how the particles that everything is made up of work and how they interact. While “Laser” is the much nicer acronym for “light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation”, but is really just a device that can convert energy into a focused energy beam.
Finding a physics tutor is like finding a French tutor. You want someone who can take the language and make it accessible to you as a learner. When you are learning another language, you don’t start by trying to read Proust in the original French, and it’s the same with understanding physics.
When you’re looking to find the right physics tutor, ask them:
- What qualifications do they have in physics?
- What experience do they have teaching?
- What level do they normal teach at?
- Are they able to explain [concept you are struggling with]?
- What method of teaching do they use?
- Where do they think you should start (do you need to go back to basics, have you missed a fundamental concept, are you overthinking a problem you clearly understand)?
Your teacher may be a world-renowned physicist, with multiple books and research published everywhere, but setting to work on understanding and defining Quantum Gravity is not where you need to be, yet.
Where Physics Classes Can Take You – Famous Kiwi Physicists
While most Kiwi’s have probably heard of Ernest Rutherford and proudly claim him as our own, the British physicist isn’t the only gifted and dedicated scientist from New Zealand. While the father of nuclear physics may be the most famous, we are lucky in New Zealand to have a wealth of dedicated scientists that continue to grow the field of physics.
All science is either physics or stamp collecting. - Ernest Rutherford
Crispin Gardiner (b.18 October 1942 -) – Physicist Specialising in Quantum optics
Born in Hastings, Gardiner has published over 120 journal articles and several books on quantum optics (how photons interact with atoms and molecules), stochastic processes (spacetime fluctuations) and ultracold atoms.
Possibly, even more importantly, Gardiner joined the Physics Department at the University of Waikato in 1970, when the University was only 5 years old. There were no research facilities when he entered, and 1970 was the first year science was taught.
Working with Dan Walls, the two built Waikato University into a major research centre for theoretical quantum optics and established research groups that collaborated worldwide.
David Garner (26 November 1928 – 13 May 2016) – Physicist Specialising in Oceanography
Born in Wanganui, Garner is most well-known for his oceanographic research. While, after graduating with a Master of Science, Garner was doing sunspot research when he published his first peer reviewed research paper “Seasonal Variation in the Aurora Australis”. The end of World War II meant he had to delay attending university, resulting in a year working on radar meteorology with the NZ Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. The University of Auckland welcomed the physicist as a senior lecturer in the Physics Department. He continued to publish research on physical oceanography and ocean circulation.
Wes Sandle (19 March 1935 – 19 February 2020) – Physicist Specialising in Lasers
Part of the Department of Physics at Otago University for almost 40 years, Sandle’s research focused on lasers. Proving himself a pioneer on laser physics and laser spectroscopy, Sandle had established New Zealand’s first laser physics group in 1972. While the late 1980s led to a change in direction focusing on laser cooling, Otago became a prominent facility as the physics research world became focused on cold atom physics.
Shaun Hendy (1969 - ) – Physicist Specialising in nanotechnology & complex systems
A current professor at the University of Auckland and director of complex systems & data analytics research centre, Te Pūnaha Matatini, the physicist, became known outside of scientific circles as the team leader for scientists working on COVID-19 spread models that were pivotal for the New Zealand governments pandemic response.
David Hutchinson (1969 - ) – Physicist Specialising in quantum physics
Although Hutchinson is a professor at the University of Otago, he is a very active researcher in quantum biology and Bose-Einstein condensates. Unsurprisingly, with New Zealand being a small country, Hutchinson is also on the Dodd-Walls Centre for Photonic and Quantum Technologies board with other notable New Zealand physics, including Shaun Hendy.
Physics Events - Annual Tauranga Moana Biosecurity Excellence Symposium
This amazing resource was in its fourth year in 2021 and allowed students to see how science, including physics, works in everyday life out in the real world. The Tauranga Moana Biosecurity Capital (TMBC) is an organisation that works in collaboration with a diverse range of partners, including “iwi, hapū, community organisations, industry, business, science and mātauranga Māori experts, central government and local government.”
The 2021 symposium featured Professor of Physics, University of Auckland, Shaun Hendy, presenting his talk “The power of science to guide a biosecurity response: the COVID-19 experience.” This shows how physics interacts with all areas of life in real-world practical usage, not just laboratory focused theoretical equations.
Physics is everywhere, but sometimes we need to look around to find ways to embrace the science in our lives.
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