Five Minute Physics


For the Student

These modules are prepared for you to read prior to attending each lecture. We use the name "Five minute physics" not to mean that the entire reading can be completed in five minutes but rather to indicate that the reading can be completed in smaller 'chunks' as indicated by the sectioning of each module. We have attempted to make use of a mix of text, images, videos and simulations to convey the information. We don't expect you to completely understand all the material in the module but we do expect that you have gained sufficient understanding to participate in the lecture - both by being able to discuss concepts with your peers in small groups as well as contributing to class discussion.

For the Educator

At the University of Queensland, we teach a range of physics courses using 'Active-learning' style classes. In the past, students were expected to prepare for such sessions by reading a prescribed section of the course textbook. Assessable quiz questions posed either prior to the lecture or at the start of the lecture were used to encourage participation. Despite this, in-class surveys indicated that some students were unwilling or unable to complete the readings.

To address this issue we obtained funding to develop a new approach in how students prepare for lectures. The project aimed to explore online learning, enabled by new technologies, for class preparation, and provide indicators of the effectiveness of this approach and its components. We developed, and assessed, electronic learning modules that students access before attending lectures, and are designed to provide students with a fundamental understanding of course material, preparing them for in-class activities that are interactive and collaborative. They are accessible via standard computer, tablet device and smart phone. and we have found that they offer significant advantages over current textbook readings by including a mix of text, images, videos and simulations. The approach was tested in a large first-year physics course (up to 500 students) and now aids student learning across several physics courses (around 1000 students) as well as in other subject areas.

The outcomes of the study were published in the Teaching and Learning Inquiry Journal in 2018.

Web Browsers

These pages have been developed using html, Javascript and cascading style sheets. All modern browsers are capable of reading such script. However, standardisation across various platforms (Mac OSX, Windows, iOS and Android) and across various browsers (Firefox, IE, Safari, Chrome, ...) leaves a lot to be desired. The modules have been tested across a range of platform/browser combinations. They have been to function with full (or close to full) capability on

  • Mac OSX using Safari/Chrome/Firefox
  • Windows using Chrome/Firefox
  • iPad/iPhone with Safari
  • Android phones/tablets with in-built browser

If you note particular issues then please provide feedback to the contact listed at the bottom of the page giving a clear description of the problem and listing the platform and browser types and versions. If you experience any issues then we recommend ensuring you have installed the latest update of your browser and/or trying a different browser. Updates to the pages will be regularly made in an attempt to overcome the issues where possible.

Research Team

  • Prof. Tim McIntyre, School of Mathematics and Physics, UQ
  • Dr. Margaret Wegener, School of Mathematics and Physics, UQ
  • Dominic McGrath, Institute for Teaching and Learning Innovation, UQ
  • Elise Kenny, School of Mathematics and Physics, UQ
  • Isaac Lenton, School of Mathematics and Physics, UQ

Additional Web Development by Trevor Daniels, Integral Software

Graphic Design by Laura Packer

Questions about the project should be directed to Tim McIntyre


Funding for this project has been supplied by the Faculty of Science and the School of Mathematics and Physics at the University of Queensland through the Strategic Teaching and Learning Grant Scheme, 2013. We acknowledge contributions from research assistants and students including Dr Cavin Talbot, Amanda Smith, Sam Peet, Sam Hinton, Nurul Izzaty Yunus and Tyler Philp.