The Physics Outreach Group: What, Where, When, How and Why?

By Lynn Moran.

Published by The International Journal of Science in Society

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: January 31, 2014 $US5.00

Science is a major element of the national curriculum in the UK; yet, pupils in the top class at year 8 - 9 (age 12 - 14) struggle when faced with the question: What is physics? Outreach activities that bring pupils outside the classroom incur the danger of reinforcing the idea that science is fun, but school science is boring. Recent research indicates the low position of physics in modern culture in general. Against this backdrop, and given that the demand for those with science qualifications has never been higher, what can or should be done to remedy the situation? Targeted outreach, integrated with the National Curriculum and school lessons, yields very positive benefits in terms of both learning and attitude change. Evidence indicates these interventions must be sustained in nature, requiring developing relationships with schools. In particular, the use of undergraduate students, who are much closer in age, to deliver the highly interactive workshops to the school pupils has a major impact. The materials used are freely available and designed to make it easy to adapt to the needs of a particular area / audience. Family fun days at the University and the museum compliment the Physics Outreach Group’s in-school activities.

Keywords: Schools, Physics, Undergraduate Students, Outreach, Engagement, High Impact

The International Journal of Science in Society, Volume 5, Issue 1, March 2014, pp.11-31. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: January 31, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 818.217KB)).

Dr. Lynn Moran

University Lecturer and Director of Outreach, Department of Physics, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK

Dr. Lynn Moran graduated with a PhD in astrophysics and has completed the International Space University Summer Programme in Australia. She was the vice-chair of a National Committee for Science & Technology (promotion) in Ireland running science activities for schools and the general public, including a Science in the Media Conference. After postdoctoral work, Lynn is lecturing at the University of Liverpool where she set up and runs the Physics Outreach Group. This group encourages and trains undergraduate and postgraduate students to develop and deliver interactive outreach in schools and at other appropriate venues. Lynn is from Ireland, works in the UK and has great passion for the promotion of science.