High school excursions to a university physics laboratory
Keywords:Experimental Physics, High School Outreach, Outreach
Authentic experimentation is an important component of physics instruction at the secondary school level, as it allows students to link learned physics concepts to observed reality and provides engagement opportunities that encourage students to pursue Physics/STEM degrees (Constan & Spicer, 2015). Furthermore, it has been demonstrated (and should be immediately apparent) that the quality of a student’s high school physics education affects their preparedness for - and future success in - university physics programs (Salehi et al., 2019). “Authentic” physics experiments, however, are often costly and difficult to organise, engendering a large gap in education quality between schools with the means to afford (and utilise) lab equipment and those who cannot, which may persist into university and unfairly disadvantage students from low socio-economic backgrounds.
In this talk, we will present an overview of The University of New South Wales’ (UNSW) Physics Excursion program, where students from high schools throughout the state of New South Wales visit our first-year teaching laboratory as part of a whole-day school activity. These excursions are tailored to fit with the existing education syllabus in NSW, allowing teachers and students to perform relevant experiments that are typically inaccessible due to logistical or financial issues. These have been utilised within schools as both assessment opportunities and as simple ‘exciting experiences’ aimed at showing students the potential excitement of pursuing a degree in physics. These excursions take place in teaching-free weeks in the university calendar.
We will detail how important input from high school teachers was to the development and creation of this program, how it is currently maintained, explore feedback from staff and students, as well as provide a brief overview of our equipment and current repertoire of experiments. We will also go over our more recent “digital incursion” program aimed at schools for whom the trip to UNSW is not feasible, often rural schools. This talk should be useful for any university academic interested in creating a similar experimental physics outreach program, as well as high school teachers looking for ways to increase student access to high quality physics experiments.REFERENCES
Constan, Z., & Spicer, J. J. (2015). Maximizing Future Potential in Physics and STEM: Evaluating a Summer Program through a Partnership between Science Outreach and Education Research. Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement, 19(2), 117-136.
Salehi, S., Burkholder, E., Lepage, G. P., Pollock, S., & Wieman, C. (2019). Demographic gaps or preparation gaps?: The large impact of incoming preparation on performance of students in introductory physics. Physical Review Physics Education Research, 15(2), 020114.
Authors who publish with the Proceedings of the International Conference on Physics Education 2022 agree to the following terms:
a) Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
b) Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
c) Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access - http://opcit.eprints.org/oacitation-biblio.html).
Privacy Statement The names and email addresses entered in the Proceedings of the International Conference on Physics Education 2022 site will be used exclusively for the stated purposes of this journal and will not be made available for any other purpose or to any other party.