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ISI Inspection of the Girls' Division 2016

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Pupils Learn About Physics Acting Out

Friday, 01 December 2017

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Hannah Renshaw from the Institute of Physics (IoP) visited the Girls’ Division to give a presentation entitled ‘Physics Acting Out: Physicists get ready to rock’ for the Years 9 and 10 Café Scientifique. Pupils from all year groups were invited to attend, and girls from Years 7, 8 and 11 also came along to find out more.

Hannah is the North West Regional Officer for the Institute of Physics. She opened her talk by explaining that she was the first person in her family to go to university and is the only scientist. She is now using outreach activities through the Institute of Physics to change people’s perceptions of science, so that future generations of aspiring scientists will have a better chance of receiving help and support from their families in their pursuit of a career in science.

In particular, Hannah focused on the drama and music activities that are being used to connect people with physics ideas. She asked all of the pupils to stand and move around to fill the space, then instructed them to collect into groups of three, five and twelve, splitting up again and moving around in between each. As well as being a fun warm-up activity, this was also a good demonstration of how gas particles behave and was able to bring the physics concept to life.

Hannah went on to describe how, in a project with the Duke’s Theatre, physics was used to generate content for drama and drama was used to explain a variety of physics concepts. This led to a performance piece. The Institute of Physics has also worked with the RNCM on a fascinating project about the perception of time. RNCM has done research into how audiences perceive the passage of time while listening to different types of music, and physicists also have worked on how the passage of time changes relative to speed. Hannah also showed a photograph of the Dark Matter Garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2015, which used poles to represent dark matter.

Finally, Hannah talked about some of the other outreach events that the Institute of Physics runs, including the use of Makey Makey kits to allow young people to create anything from a banana piano to a water-bucket DDR dance pad!

She explained that the idea behind these projects is not necessarily to inspire those involved to become scientists themselves, but to give them a greater understanding and appreciation for the world of science so that they can be supportive of their children when they bring home science homework in years to come.

Pupils asked a variety of questions and were particularly interested in how the Makey Makey kits worked and their wide variety of uses in science outreach.

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