Conference Contribution Details
Mandatory Fields
Walshe, G., Casey, V., Cauchi, M., Cusack, A., Kavanagh, Y., Quinn, M. and Clancy, I.
European Science Education Research Association (ESERA)
Science outreach to promote physics to girls: An investigation into the impact of a school visit programme
Bologna, Italy
Oral Presentation
Optional Fields
This project aims to encourage girls to take up physics as a subject for the Irish Leaving Certificate (higher second-level). There is a three to one ratio of male to female students taking physics at Leaving Certificate level. This in turn results in low numbers of women taking physics at third-level, and ultimately in senior roles in academia and industry. A pilot iteration of this project was launched in spring 2018, whereby undergraduate students of physics visited secondary schools to deliver a workshop to lower-second level students. The workshop is informed by recommendations from a number of previous studies. Women’s interest and persistence in physics hinges on their sense of belonging, and recommendations to support belonging include endorsing effort and hard work over brilliance and combatting the stereotypes of who does physics. The workshop consists of demonstrations, information about physics, and famous physicists, and the diversity of careers that can be pursued with a physics qualification. The undergraduate facilitators also tell their own story of how they came to study physics. Student feedback indicated that the pilot school visits had a positive impact on their perceptions of physics. These positive outcomes have led to an expansion of the project in 2019. The workshop design is being improved, undergraduate facilitators are undergoing a more structured training protocol, and more schools are being visited, including co-educational schools. Data collection will be more varied and robust. This presentation will discuss the impact of participating in the second round of the school visit programme from the perspective of students, teachers and undergraduate facilitators.