The first post is the hardest apparently, so I’ve decided to jump into the deep end and go for it.
I’ll start off with a little about me and why I decided to enroll on the Geoscience (and Physics!) Outreach Project course.
I’m a fourth year (out of five) Physics MPhys student at the University of Edinburgh, which means that this year I get to take on my first big project. However, this year we were offered the chance to join the GeoScience students on their outreach course- for the first time ever.
I knew immediately that I would prefer an outreach project over the research and experimental projects that are usually on offer. During a year out between high school and university I spent time working in an underprivileged school in Santiago, Chile. During this time I worked as a teaching assistant in the English department, encouraging the children at the school to continue learning English, creating fun lessons and taking some stress off of the overworked teachers.
With this experience in mind, I knew that an outreach project would be extremely rewarding for me and an opportunity I didn’t want to miss. After an information session, phone call, and nerve wracking interview, I received the exciting news that I was in!
So far we’ve had 4 (virtual) workshops. One introductory, one on blogging, one on active learning and one on the Scottish Educational System. I’ve found it extremely refreshing to be doing something quite different to my usual degree programme. The workshops provide a break in the week and I’ve enjoyed getting to speak to students from other courses, including GeoSciences and Archeology.
I found the workshop on the Scottish Educational System quite interesting. Having been brought up within the system and Curriculum for Excellence myself, I expected to know everything in the session already and it would just be for the benefit of the students from outside Scotland, but learning the “behind the scenes” of the system was really beneficial. Knowing how teachers are expected to structure their lessons to fit within the curriculum will really help me to create my project and work together with my client.
Speaking of the project, I’m excited to soon be finding out who my client is and be able to start work on it. I have some ideas but at the moment they’re slightly chaotic and not very well organised. I would love to be able to go into a school and do some practical experiments with the children and let them really have fun while learning about science. However, with the ongoing Covid situation, I don’t want to plan anything that requires me being there. Therefore, my next thought is to make an online video series (à la CrashCourse, minutephysics, or PhysicsGirl – all great science communicators) where I perform the experiments and talk about the science behind them, and write a lesson plan or instructions for the children to repeat them in the classroom. However I do want to be aware that not all schools have the equipment or budget for doing lots of fun experiments- and 30 children setting off a baking soda volcano might not be the most fun for some teachers. I have some other ideas, like holding a family fun-day exhibition about the solar system, planets and other aspects of our Universe, or like creating a guide to the Edinburgh night sky, where people can learn about what’s going on right above their heads.
I think what I need to do first is have a look at some of the final projects from previous students to have an idea of what will work, and what won’t. I’m excited to keep developing these ideas and hopefully at the end being able to produce something that’ll be fun and useful to educators and learners as well!
See you next time,