Teaching Science

modern physics

In Our Time: The Proton

In Our Time is a wonderful series on BBC Radio 4.

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the discovery and growing understanding of the Proton, formed from three quarks close to the Big Bang and found in the nuclei of all elements. The positive charges they emit means they attract the fundamental particles of negatively charged electrons, an attraction that leads to the creation of atoms which in turn leads to chemistry, biology and life itself. The Sun (in common with other stars) is a fusion engine that turn protons by a series of processes into helium, emitting energy in the process, with about half of the Sun's protons captured so far. Hydrogen atoms, stripped of electrons, are single protons which can be accelerated to smash other nuclei and have applications in proton therapy. Many questions remain, such as why are electrical charges for protons and electrons so perfectly balanced?

Linked in the grade 12 modern physics unit.

In Our Time: Pauli’s Exclusion Principle

In Our Time is a wonderful series on BBC Radio 4.

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the life and ideas of Wolfgang Pauli (1900-1958), whose Exclusion Principle is one of the key ideas in quantum mechanics. A brilliant physicist, at 21 Pauli wrote a review of Einstein's theory of general relativity and that review is still a standard work of reference today. The Pauli Exclusion Principle proposes that no two electrons in an atom can be at the same time in the same state or configuration, and it helps explain a wide range of phenomena such as the electron shell structure of atoms. Pauli went on to postulate the existence of the neutrino, which was confirmed in his lifetime. Following further development of his exclusion principle, Pauli was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1945 for his 'decisive contribution through his discovery of a new law of Nature'. He also had a long correspondence with Jung, and a reputation for accidentally breaking experimental equipment which was dubbed The Pauli Effect.

Linked in the grade 12 modern physics page.

Quark Soup Card Game

A set-collecting game for 2-5 players. Have fun learning the physics of quarks!

Collect one meson and one baryon to win the game. Build a barrier of quarks to protect yourself, but beware annihilation attacks, photon excitation and quantum entanglement in the world where even reality is uncertain!

No knowledge of particle physics is required!

Another card game about quarks. Maybe it’s an artifact of google, but there seem to be more games about quarks than any other part of physics.

Linked in the grade 12 modern physics page.

Quarkle Card Game

Quarkle is a game of making particles out of quarks by adding up their charges.

In this game, the players get to put together quarks to make many different particles (both mesons and baryons).

For ages 4+ you can play the game with no knowledge of particle physics or adding fractions or being able to read.

For high schooler physics classes learning about particle physics and the emergent behaviours of the quark interactions, the game helps them understand the difference between baryons and mesons and gives them practice finding the charge of particles by adding their quark or anti-quark components.

Finally, the game can be played in an advanced mode involving quantum chromodynamics and the “colour charge.” In this way, it can be fun and competitive for all ages and levels of scientific knowledge.

Soon there will also be an expansion pack that adds electroweak interactions, Feynman diagrams, force-carrying particles, the Higgs Boson, etc… keep watching for further additions to enhance this “nerd-tastic” game.

This is a fun little game. The designer is selling it at cost so it’s affordable (but like all print-on-demand products, it still costs more than a mass-produced deck would cost).

Linked in the grade 12 modern physics page.


Some of the biggest questions in the world of science may be answered by studying quarks, the smallest of particles. The problem with trying to study quarks is that you can’t find just one quark; you need to find them in groups called hadrons, or some other exotic particles, like the Pentaquark.

In the game, you are trying to give science a little helping hand by collecting the 5 quarks that form this particle at the detector of a massive particle collider. Move cards you need to the detector, discard others so they may come back as anti-quarks, and try to minimize the number of quarks scattered and lost. If too many cards are removed from the game, the Pentaquark has slipped through undetected once again!

Pentaquark is a single player game designed by Mike Mullins with art by Fabrice Weiss. Gameplay lasts 15-30 minutes (you will immediately want to play again) and recommended for ages 12 and up.

This is a fun little game. I’d recommend spending the extra $2 and getting all the expansions.

Linked in the grade 12 modern physics page.

Quark Matter Card Game

Quarks and leptons, such as electrons, muons and neutrinos... Sounds a bit scary, doesn't it? With the help of this booklet, you can get into touch with the incomprehensible world of elementary particles. This is not just a usual booklet: it contains a set of 66 cards, and describes six games with them. The cards represent elementary particles from the Standard Model. You can play family style memory games with particles and their anti-particles, have fun with Quark Matter, the perfect fluid of quarks. You can even find your own Higgs boson and win one of the games on the spot. It is fun to have elementary particles in your hands, or, in your pocket! The games scale very well, recommended from 5 years old to adults.

This is a bit of an odd product. It’s as much a pamphlet on quarks as it is a game (or games). Still, at less than $5 for the PDF it can be useful for curious students.

Linked in the grade 12 modern physics page.

Quark: a game of matter — Card Game

Exert your influence and guide the swirling mass of the smallest bits of matter back together to form sub-atomic particles while racing to build the biggest atom.

Quark is a lighter weight card game. Players have two actions each turn they can use to collect quarks, decay quarks down into other quarks, annihilate quarks for energy or to create particles.

At the end of the game, players score points for particles created, the best atom created and any energy they have left over.

A fairly simple game. Print-and-play, and free so it costs nothing to try it. The components are a bit basic for a finished game, but quite good for a playtest version (which I think this is).

Linked in the grade 12 modern physics page.

Quark Card Dealer Activity

Elementary particles, which make up everything in our world, have the amazing features that we cannot see in our daily life. One of the features is “color charges” which are compared to the three primary colors of red, green and blue. Playing the card game, you can understand the color charges intuitively and enjoy the world of elementary particle physics. The elementary particle “quark” is explained by the Quantum Chromodynamics which is abbreviated as QCD. The card game “Quark Card Dealer” is named after the abbreviation.

This print-and-play card activity, translated from the Japanese, is a bit odd — but some of your students might like it.

Linked in the grade 12 modern physics page.

New Grade 11 & 12 Physics Resources

New Grade 11 Resource

  • Added link to the In Our Time program States of Matter on BBC, linked in the energy unit.

New Grade 12 Resource

  • Added link to the In Our Time program Gravitational Waves on BBC, linked in the modern physics unit.

New Grade 12 Physics Resource

New Resource