Breathing 'physics and life' into science teaching

April 15, 2003

Brussels, 14 Apr 2003

Accused of being under funded, uninteresting and just plain difficult, science in schools is undergoing a serious identity crisis. EIROforum's 'physics and life' initiative tackles this problem head on.

Science is just not as popular in schools as it used to be. Poor experiences in the science class have left many young Europeans with a bad taste in their mouth about science and what it has to offer society. This is an untimely truth, given the growing opportunities for science to improve European lives and economies. But what can be done to stir scientific interest among youngsters?

Some of Europe's leading research organisations, scientists and teachers have come up with a fresh approach called 'Physics on Stage'. Now in its third year, this scheme is directed towards science teachers and students at European secondary schools. It forms part of the year-long build up to the European Commission's Science and Technology Week.

Innovative and inspirational science teaching is critical to coax young people into thinking about scientific issues. Physics on Stage 3 reaches out to students through their teachers. This year's theme is 'physics and life', which broadens the scope of the programme to include the natural sciences. It also emphasises the cross over between pure sciences and life sciences, which is not normally covered in school curricula.

An insider's perspective

Physics on Stage 3 is divided into several core activities at the national, international and pan-European levels. National steering committees from 22 countries prepare their programme of activities. In turn, these programmes help select teams to represent each of the countries at the next stage, the 'Physics on Stage International Festival'. Last, an online 'resource centre' will soon provide a pan-European forum for exchanging scientific teaching materials and 'best practices'.

Coinciding with Science Week in November this year, the Festival will showcase successful educational tools and methods. It will also identify the most effective ways of supporting teachers, giving them an insider's view on how to stimulate new approaches to science education. Among the many subjects to be presented are radiation, physics and the environment, sports science, medical applications of physics, and more.

EIROforum, the organiser of Physics on Stage 3, is made up of seven research organisations. They include the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN), the European Fusion Development Agreement (EFDA), the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), the European Space Agency (ESA), the European Southern Observatory (ESO), the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF), and the Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL).

Source:: EU sources, European Southern Observatory

Contact: rwest@eso.org

More information on this subject:

Physics on Stage

European Southern Observatory

EIROforum

European Science and Technology Week (3-9 November 2003)

DG Research
http://europa.eu.int/comm/dgs/research/i ndex_en.html

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