IOP Institute of Physics

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Physics Works at Walderslade Girls’ School

16 July 2014

On 9 July the Institute of Physics (IOP) held a Physics at Work event at Walderslade Girls’ School in Chatham, Kent. Physics at Work aims to show students the exciting careers they can have if they study physics at A-level and university. The event forms part of the IOP’s drive to get more girls to take up the subject; currently only around a fifth of students taking A-level physics are female.

Physics Works at Walderslade Girls’ School

On the day, around 140 year-eight girls took part in five different workshops hosted by Surrey Satellites, e2v, the Engineering Development Trust, Hands on Science and Mott MacDonald. The workshops were designed to demonstrate how many jobs, careers and industries use physics every day. Surrey Satellites showed that understanding how a gyroscope works is crucial when building satellites. Physics also has an important role to play in the development of new renewable energy technologies and this was highlighted when the students were challenged to build energy-efficient wind turbines by Mott MacDonald.

Later in the day the students were joined by the Mayor of Medway, Councillor Barry Kemp. After being shown the different workshops the Mayor, who is a former maths teacher, spoke to the students about the success that two of his former pupils have enjoyed – one of whom had invented a new kind of vacuum pump – by pursuing careers in science and engineering. It was hoped that the girls present might just have been inspired to come up with their own inventions in the future.       

“We’ve made progress over the last few decades, but fewer girls than boys pursue careers in STEM subjects,” Kemp said. “When girls opt out of these subjects they shut the door to a growing job market and society loses much needed mathematicians and scientists.

“I have always applauded the work of the Institute of Physics, in particular their efforts to champion the cause of encouraging girls to study science. It is echoing what I have been doing over many years teaching mathematics.”

IOP London and South East Branch Chair, Dr Mark Telling, who oversaw the event added, “It’s great to see the students really get involved in science. I think it’s vital that the IOP keeps trying to get more young people involved in STEM subjects – it really motivates me to keep putting on these sorts of events. You never know, we might just have a future Nobel Prize winner here today.”