Seeking Expressions of Interest for new Teaching Staff in Foundations of Physics (PHYS1001), 2018.

Published in the Research School of Physics Event Horizon
Vol43 Issue45 27 November–1 December 2017

Dear HDR Students, 

We are looking for new casual teaching staff for Foundations of Physics (PHYS1001) in 2018, semester 1. This is an opportunity to be involved in a nationally-awarded first-year physics course, and develop your teaching/communication skills in a way perhaps completely new to you.  Our previous staff have gone on to use these skill in many aspects of their career!

The course is run in a way that is probably unlike any course you have been involved with before. We focus on teaching students to “think like a physicist”, with an emphasis on creativity, problem solving, experimental design, and estimation. We also often blow things up for fun.

Every week, students from diverse backgrounds are introduced to new physics concepts, and then come into our studio lab and are given open ended questions & problems. They have to design their own experiments to address those problems. Problems like “Build a rocket that goes as high as possible”, and “Using what you’ve been given, build the worlds simplest electric train”.

Your role is to guide and help them in this open-ended environment. There is no lab manual, and no single way of solving these problems. Students create short videos to report on their understanding, approach, and results. You grade these. 

See some of the videos and more at

What we offer you: The opportunity to be part of a team of teachers, not just a “demonstrator or tutor”.  To develop a skill set useful for your future career, be it academic or otherwise. An opportunity to shape what we do in the course.  A fast path to becoming a fellow of the Higher Education Academy - an internationally recognised professional university teaching accreditation. The opportunity to grow with the course, if you’d like to be involved for several years.  Paid work for every hour you put in!


What we expect from you:

Enthusiasm, and an ability (or desire) to “think on your feet”. Inclusiveness and patience. A reasonable level of emotional intelligence.  At least 4-5 hours of time commitment per week of semester. Commitment to fair and consistent marking.  A reasonable working knowledge of first year (or even high school) physics - you’ll learn more on the job though!

What this teaching role is not: An easy way to make some extra money.  A well defined lab that you run every week via the same approach/recipe. 

To express your interest, please write to me at with a short paragraph or two telling us: 

Why you want to be involved in the course. What you think you can bring. and what you hope to get out of it. 

Our course typically has the highest gender balance of any Physics course at ANU (50/50 in 2017). Females are strongly encouraged to apply. 

Thanks and best wishes,
Dr. John Debs

PHYS1001 Convenor


Dr. John Debs

Lecturer and MakerSpace Mastermind

Physics Education Centre & Department of Quantum Science

Research School of Physics and Engineering
Physics Drop-in, Building 38a, Science Road
The Australian National University
Canberra, ACT 2601 

P: +61 2 6125 8420 

Updated:  28 March 2023/ Responsible Officer:  Director, RSPhys/ Page Contact:  Physics Webmaster