"Physics and Life" for Europe's Science Teachers

03-04-2003

What do you know about modern science? Was your school science teacher inspiring and enthusiastic? Or was physics class a good time to take a nap? EIROforum [1], the group of seven leading European Research Organizations including the ESRF [2], is launching "Physics on Stage 3". The aim of this project is to reverse the trend of disaffection for science by improving the quality of teaching and finding new ways to stimulate pupils to take an interest in science.

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Unfortunately, many young Europeans don't have the fondest memories of science in school, and the result is a widespread disinterest and lack of understanding of science among adults. This has become a real problem - especially at a time when science is having a growing impact on our daily lives, and when society needs more scientists than ever. What can be done? Some of Europe's leading research organisations, scientists and teachers have put their heads together and come up with a unique approach called "Physics on Stage". This will be the third year that these institutes, with substantial support from the European Commission, are running this project - attacking the problem at its roots.

 

"Physics On Stage 3" is based on the very successful "Physics On Stage" concept that was introduced in 2000. It is directed towards science teachers and students in Europe's secondary schools. It is a part of the year-long build-up to the European Science and Technology Week 2003 (3-9 November), an initiative by the European Commission, and is run by EIROforum.

The theme of "Physics on Stage" this year is "Physics and Life", reflecting the decision to broaden the Physics on Stage activities to encompass all the natural sciences. Including other sciences will augment the already successful concept, introducing a mixture of cross-over projects that highlight the multidisciplinary aspects of modern science.

Among the many subjects to be presented are radiation, physics and the environment, astrobiology (the search for life beyond earth), complex systems, self-organising systems, sports science, the medical applications of physics, mathematics and epidemiology, etc.

Innovative and inspirational science teaching is seen as a key component to attract young people to deal with scientific issues, whether or not they finally choose a career in science. Hence, "Physics On Stage 3" aims to stimulate the interest of young people through the school teachers, who can play a key role in reversing the trend of falling interest in science and current scientific research.

"Physics on Stage 3" also aims to facilitate the exchange of good practice and innovative ideas among Europe's science teachers and to provide a forum for a broad debate among educators, administrators and policy-makers about the key problems in science education today. Moreover, it will make available the considerable, combined expertise of the EIROforum organisations to the European scientific teaching community, in order to promote the introduction of "fresh" science into the curricula and thus to convey a more realistic image of modern science to the pupils.

"Physics on Stage 3" is concerned with basic science and also with the cross-over between different science disciplines - a trend becoming more and more important in today's science, which is not normally reflected in school curricula. A key element of the programme is to give teachers an up-to-date "insiders'" view of what is happening in science and to tell them about new, highly-diverse and interesting career opportunities for their pupils.

National activities:
"Physics on Stage 3" has already started and National Steering Committees in 22 countries, composed of eminent science teachers, scientists, administrators and others involved in setting school curricula, are now preparing related programs in their countries. Through these national activities, outstanding individuals will be selected to represent their teachers' communities at the final international event, the "Physics on Stage 3" festival. A list of national contact points is attached below.

International festival:
The high-profile "festival" during the European Science and Technology Week 2003 will stimulate the dissemination of successful education tools and methods, identify the most effective ways to support teachers and motivate novel developments in science education. It will take place at the ESA-ESTEC site in Noordwijk (The Netherlands), from November 8 - 15, 2003. The climax of the event will be the presentation of the European Science Teaching Awards, in recognition of teaching excellence, inspiration and motivation of young people.

Online Resource Archive
An online archive of the best teaching materials and practices in Europe will be established, forming a unique 'resource centre', which will make available all of the interesting materials identified through the programme and provide a forum for exchange which will last well beyond the duration of the activity.

Contact: Dominique Cornuéjols, Head of Communications, tel. +33 476 88 20 25 (cornuejols@esrf.fr)

Full information about "Physics on Stage 3" is available at the central website: www.physicsonstage.net


[1] This Press Release is issued jointly by the seven EIROforum partners: CERN- the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, EFDA - the European Fusion Development Agreement, EMBL - the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, ESA - the European Space Agency, ESO - the European Southern Observatory, ESRF - the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility and ILL - Institut Laue-Langevin. Associated organisations in the "Physics on Stage 3" programme include the European Physical Society (EPS) and the European Association for Astronomy Education (EAAE).

[2] The European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) is an international facility with 17 participating countries to operate, maintain and develop a synchrotron radiation source and associated instruments. It operates the most powerful third generation synchrotron radiation source in Europe (www.esrf.fr) .

List of national contact points
Some URL addresses are not yet available. Check the central website at www.physicsonstage.net for the latest information and new links.

Austria
www.teilchen.at/POS/

Christian Gottfried - christian.gottfried@cern.ch
Belgium
Jacqueline Hellemans - Jacq.Hellemans@fys.kuleuven.ac.be
Bulgaria
www.pos2003.hit.bg

Ivan Lalov - UPB@phys.uni-sofia.bg
Czech Republic
kdf.mff.cuni.cz/pos

Leos DvorE1k - Leos.Dvorak@mff.cuni.cz
Denmark
www.formidling.dk/index.pl?url=/aktiviteter/pos3.htm

Mikkel Bohm - mb@formidling.dk
Finland
www.oph.fi/

Jari Koivisto - Jari.Koivisto@oph.fi
France
Nicolas Witkowski - niwi99@aol.com
Germany
opal.physik.uni-bonn.de/~mkobel/pos/welcome.htm

Michael Kobel - kobel@physik.uni-bonn.de
Greece
Nicholas Tracas - ntrac@central.ntua.gr
Hungary
Adam Kovach - kovach@moon.atomki.hu
Ireland
Brendan O'Donaghue - bdono@o2.ie
Italy
www.pd.astro.it/eaae/POS3

Carla Romagnino - carlaromagnino@tiscali.it
Luxembourg
www.restena.lu/eaae/pos/

Fernand Wagner - fernand.wagner@ci.educ.lu
The Netherlands
Cathalijn Drukker - cmdrukker@wanadoo.nl
Norway
www.norskfysikk.no/pos/

Heidi Bruvoll - heidi.bruvoll@fys.uio.no
Poland
main.amu.edu.pl/~fizscena/

Wojciech Nawrocik - nawrocik@main.amu.edu.pl
Portugal
Ana Noronha - anoronha@cienciaviva.pt
Slovak Republic
Dalibor Krupa - fyzikrup@savba.sk
Spain
Rosa Maria Ros - ros@mat.upc.es
Sweden
www.eaae-astro.org/se/pos/

Erik Johansson - kej@physto.se
Switzerland
Davide Vite - Davide.Vite@cern.ch
United Kingdom
Kerry Parker - kerry.parker@iop.org