In 1992, I completed my physics degree. Out of a cohort of 80, less than 5 of us found physics jobs. It was a bad year.
I went to Berlin to teach English. I couldn’t speak German and I couldn’t teach.
For two years, I took a subsidised German for foreigners language course at Volkshochschule Lichtenberg in East Berlin with 20 Russians and Poles, a Brazilian photographer and a Spanish woman, Carmen, who arrived late to every lesson, sat next to me and demanded, “Benjamin, what are we doing?”
In the evenings, I taught English at the same school.
After two years my German was good enough to be offered a job as a technical translator. But I had already accepted a place on a PGCE. One of those sliding-door decisions.
That was 25 years ago, and I’ve barely spoken German since. Here’s a quick translation of a German Realschule physics exam – students take this at the end of year 10. I haven’t polished it (we translators believe that you should leave a flavour of the original!)
Final Exam 2017
1.1.0 An electric radiator is connected to the household mains. The heating coil and an LED lamp (as operating status indicator) with an appropriate series resistor are connected in parallel as in the diagram.
When checking the device, an ammeter shows a total current of 4,032A. Across the LED a voltage of 2.12V and a current of 20 mA is measured. The heating coil has a resistance RH = 57Ω
1.1.1 Calculate the value of the necessary series resistor RV
1.1.2 Calculate the current through the heating coil.
1.1.3 The heating coil consists of a 105 m long constantan wire. Determine by calculation the diameter of the wire.
1.1.4 A second identical heating coil is available. How must the heating coils be connected so that the heating power doubled? Justify your answer.
1.1.5 Outline qualitatively the current intensity through the LED in dependence on time.
1.2 For a summer party, three waffle irons (each 1.1 kW) and a coffee machine (4.1 A) are operated. Oskar suggests connecting them to the circuit using a multiple socket. Matilda learns from the caretaker that this circuit is protected by a 16 A fuse. “We should at least connect the coffee machine to another circuit!” suggests Matilda. Take a stand on this everyday problem. Justify it physically.
2.1.0 Cooking is still popular. The correct stove plays an essential role. While many cooks swear on on gas or electric hobs, Induction cookers are becoming more popular.
2.1.1 Explain how an induction cooker works.
2.1.2 Name two advantages of an induction cooker over a conventional electric hob.
2.2.0 A wind farm provides an electrical output of 100 MW. This power will be transmitted to a distribution hub via a total of 50 km long 220 kV underground cable. The efficiency of the cable is 99%.
2.2.1 For the transmission of electrical energy over long distances, the use of high and low voltage transformers makes sense. Make a schematic circuit diagram. Label all essential components clearly.
2.2.2. Explain why the use of transformers for the transmission of electrical energy makes sense.
2.2.3 Calculate the current in the cable and confirm that the resistance of the pipeline is 4.8Ω
2.2.4 In the case of underground cables, the conductive cable core consists of copper. Determine the diameter of the copper core.
Note: I did this out of curiosity. Is this harder than our GCSE physics? I think probably not.