Physics with Jennifer Macgonigal

14 May 2020

Jennifer Macgonigal has been a Teacher for 15 years and has been teaching Physics at Glenaeon for the past six years. Following a career in Veterinary Science she completed a Diploma of Education and transferred to teaching. Her enthusiasm for the Physics started early, when, as a young child, she first pondered the question, ‘Does the universe really go on forever?’ It has been her passion ever since.  We’ve asked Jennifer to tell us why Physics is the pick of the crop….

Why should I pick Physics?
Have you ever wondered how it all began? Where the universe came from? How vast it is and what it is made up of? Does it interest you to find out more about the nature of matter, where energy comes in and what is light? Are you drawn to understanding how a cell phone works, how rockets are launched into space or perhaps how we generate electricity? And what is relativity or quantum mechanics anyway?  These are just a few of the questions we tackle in physics.

What will studying Physics teach me?
In Physics we study how and why things move. We use a series of mathematical equations and laws to describe and predict motion. We conduct experiments to build skills which we then use to make predictions.  We use our understanding of the laws of physics and the mathematical equations that underpin them to make sense of the world around us.

What is the number 1 reason why students choose to study Physics?
Most students who study physics love maths. They are drawn to the concept of using equations to describe and predict the movement of an object, be it a tennis ball in flight, a satellite in motion or an electron orbiting the nucleus of an atom. Students who study physics want to understand more deeply the world in which they live, and they are keen to work hard to develop that understanding.

What makes this subject such a great one to study in HSC? What makes it so interesting? Why are you passionate about Physics?
Physics is fascinating! Is a deeply humbling subject to study. It is conceptually difficult and at times challenging, but that’s what makes it so interesting. I often joke with my students that they will enter my classroom in Year 11 with some sense of the world and leave at the end of Year 12 with far more questions than answers and a greater sense of just how little they know! By studying Physics, you are probing the nature of universe. I find it extraordinary that the same equations that describe a marble rolling down a slope apply to a planet orbiting a star in a distant galaxy.

What differentiates Glenaeon’s teaching approach in Physics to other schools? 
By far the greatest advantage of studying Physics at Glenaeon is the small class sizes. For a challenging subject it is such an advantage. As a teacher I am acutely aware of how my students are placed in the subject and the size of the class allows for some wonderful discussions.

How can this subject help students beyond their school years?
When you consider how much Physics underpins your very existence and the way in which you operate in the world, the subject speaks for itself. And if that hasn’t convinced you? Physics makes for great dinner party conversations!