Dr Darragh Corvan, Head of Physics at Mayfield School shares his experiences as a science teacher

When and why did you become a science teacher?

When I was about five years old, my uncle bought me an encyclopaedia that contained a section on the planets. I remember looking at this pretty much on a daily basis, and being blown away by some of the concepts presented there. This first piqued my interest in Physics. I’ve always loved talking about Physics and, having many friends who are non-physicists, I often needed to adjust how I talked about my work to them. So teaching was a no-brainer for me. I eventually became a Physics teacher at the age of 22, after finishing University, and I’m currently Head of Physics at Mayfield School.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?  

Every day is different, and every student is individual and unique in their interests and challenges. I particularly enjoy the moments where I see understanding on the faces of pupils who had been confused about a concept just seconds before. It is also really fun to show pupils helium as a super-fluid running through a glass container!

What is the most popular part of the curriculum amongst pupils?  

This is an interesting one. Each student is very individual, so it’s really about finding a ‘hook’ for each of them in their younger years. Certainly, at GCSE the most popular topic is space. At Mayfield, we have an Astronomy Club, one of 50 extra-curricular activities, where the students get to do fun things like observe Mars using a telescope – they love it. 

What are the most exciting and unexpected careers that studying Physics leads to? 

Some of my friends have ended up as lecturers in universities across the world, some as teachers, engineers and some in finance or IT sectors. Many went into the medical profession operating MRI and radiography machines, but perhaps more unusually, one went into working with Team GB developing sports equipment.  

Do you have any advice for girls looking to study Physics at University? 

Never be afraid to read around your subject, it is fascinating! The more I read about Physics, the more I realise there is to learn. Moreover, it is becoming increasingly important to be competent in computer programming, so get confident with ICT. 

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