Recent reports in the media suggest that “Girls see physics as for white men only” and MPs have been told that girls do not take physics at A-level because they think the subject is only for white boys. (BBS news report: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-61494903)
The Science Outreach Badminton School is a unique programme established to help redress this imbalance in three key ways: By providing strong, positive role models of young female scientists engaged in exciting practical work in the wider community, by encouraging the uptake of STEM subjects through the opportunity to deliver practical-based shows and by providing girls who wish to study science beyond A Level with a set of unique experiences they can use to support applications to higher education courses.
Pupils get the opportunity to demonstrate and present a range of science experiments in front of audiences varying from primary school aged children to audiences in their thousands; The Science Outreach teams gets invited to perform live demonstrations and present to big ticket events such as The UK Big Bang, WOMAD and Green Man Festivals.
The events are almost always aimed at both girls and boys. The girls need the inspiration of seeing female scientists doing exciting practical physics and speaking confidently about the subject. Meanwhile a key element of overcoming gender-based stereotypes in science is for boys to see that it is normal for girls to be confidently undertaking practical roles.
Science Outreach keeps on getting invited back to large events because they are a unique example of girls engaged in the physical sciences.
Noor Fatima, Badminton School’s Science Outreach Officer (aged 16) said: “Our main work is providing a diverse set of role models for young children, to counteract the perception that physics and other sciences only appeal to white men. At my school we want the physical sciences to be inclusive; to show young women’s interest and involvement in them. Through this approach we also enable our community to continue engaging with science even when they choose a different academic path: Everyone can have fun doing physics even if they don’t become a physicist because we make science accessible to all.”
Mr David Williams, Head of Science Outreach at Badminton School, said: “There is no difference between girls’ and boys’ ability in Physics when they come to choose A-Level subjects and the key to achieving a more equal balance in the physical sciences – especially Physics – is for young people of both genders to have strong, positive role models of young women engaging in exciting practical activities. I am proud that Badminton School is at the forefront of increasing the participation and visibility of young women in Physics and I hope that through our work with other schools and organisations, we can show that science is for everyone to an ever-increasing audience.”