Laboratory teaching is an indispensible part of science education. The processes of making observations, performing systematic and quantitative investigations, data collection, analysis and logical interpretation of results and drawing relevant conclusions, are the skills fundamental to the training of all science subjects. Performing experiments also serve to reinforce students’ classroom learning experiences.

Ironically, many of the scientific ideas are taught with only very limited support of the corresponding experiments, for a number of reasons. These could be cost, space and safety implications for implementing the experiments. Faced with these situations, teachers generally perform slide/video shows of the related experiments or to run computer simulations based on textbook equations and models. While such alternative learning and teaching (L&T) approaches provide supplementary information to students about the scientific principles involved, there are pitfalls associated with these techniques.

Starting 2010, the Department of Applied Physics (AP) has launched a centralized depository of selected physics experiments. While the initial goal of the platform was for PolyU undergraduates admitted to AP’s service-teaching subjects, the idea has since gained popularity and is now also available for senior secondary school students. These are setups either not normally installed in secondary schools, or those that can pose danger for unskilled operators.

Through the years, we have established a number of physics experiment setups:

  • damped oscillations
  • interference and diffraction of light
  • radioactivity
  • Earth’s magnetic field