North Independent Secondary School of the Year 2020



Astronomy archive will help future generations of students

Friday 7 December 2018

A new learning resource for students of astronomy is now freely available on the website of The Grammar School at Leeds (GSAL).

Unusually for a new online resource, it does not show off the latest digital wizardry. Rather it preserves the beautifully hand written worksheets and practice papers of Mr Derek Fry, who taught physics and astronomy at Leeds Grammar School and GSAL for almost 30 years.

Derek, who died in April aged 77, was renowned for his way with words and attention to detail. During his long teaching career he resisted the march of online technology, and put hours of work into building up an extensive archive of handwritten documents to assist his students in tackling exam topics in physics and astronomy.

This archive has now been digitised as ‘Mr Fry’s Collection’ to widen access to students of astronomy throughout the country – even worldwide. The initial upload focuses on astronomy papers, in recognition of Derek’s contribution to the subject. He introduced the GCSE course at Leeds Grammar School, became a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) and in 2017 the RAS honoured him with their Service to Astronomy Award.

Also renowned for his vast general knowledge, Derek loved to go off timetable from time to time, with a Just for Fun – or JF2  – session on whatever topic took his fancy that day, much to the delight of his students. The JF2 format was chosen as the launch event for Mr Fry’s Collection, with alumni, staff, students and friends invited to give a presentation on any subject of their choosing.

Introducing the collection, Michelle D’Vali, physics teacher who taught GCSE astronomy with Derek for six years, said: “Look at the collection, you will learn something new and it will make you smile. Derek is having a conversation with you and holding your hand through it. It’s a wonderful resource for GCSE astronomy, he is still teaching us even now.”

Visit Mr Fry’s Collection on the GSAL website.

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