Links to a Life Lise Meitner tour Devon and Somerset

3 June 2019

In February and March, IOP South West branch sponsored Links to a Life tour of Devon and Somerset schools. The aim was to inspire girls to embrace science and to consider choosing Physics at A-level and at university.

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Sarah White playing Lise Meitner and Dan Ball playing Otto Hahn


The creative learning company visited 10 schools with their Meitner Day Tour, using theatre and storytelling to bring physics and maths to life for more than 300 students. Meitner Day is designed to inspire budding physicists as they learn about the Austrian born physicist, Lise Meitner.

Meitner was the first woman in Germany to become a professor in physics and worked alongside many of the greatest scientists of the day. She was at the cutting edge of atomic physics and nuclear fission. Her lifetime colleague and collaborator Otto Hahn was rewarded with the Nobel prize in 1944, but Meitner's brilliance was never truly recognised during her lifetime.

Links to a Life delivers Meitner's story through a combination of the arts and the sciences, engaging and inspiring the physicists of the future. As one 15 year-old female student commented: "I learnt how important it is to give everyone the opportunity to learn because they could be the ones to make a scientific breakthrough and change the world. Lise Meitner passed every obstacle and stayed determined in hard times. She stands as a great example for anyone feeling discouraged to pursue their dreams".

"Our Meitner Day tour aims to inspire more girls, and boys, to take up physics at A-Level through an interactive and innovative look at Lise Meitner's life" explains tour producer and Links to a Life director, Rae Hoole. "Meitner was a remarkable person, who overcame many obstacles. Students have really embraced her story and we hope have been inspired to consider the sciences at university and in their careers."

The schools were really impressed: "It was an amazing day. We loved the play; I for one found it quite emotional. I always forget how intense an experience live performance is compared to a film. It was not just the play though, the whole day was really well produced, placed and balanced. Luke's teaching segments and the group work were very good, and the girls particularly impressed me with their contribution in the discussion section in the afternoon." Park School, Barnstaple

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Meitner Day at Uffculme school


"The use of drama was such a powerful way of getting over the story and ideas/concepts and gave the science the human side that is so often overlooked. The drama hooks them and draws them in like no other method can. My overriding impression of the day was seeing the confidence of the girls growing throughout the day.

"Another highlight was the afternoon session when the groups discussed some of Luke's "big questions". They really appreciated the opportunity to contribute to some deep, meaningful discussions and present their ideas to a non-judgemental audience." Huish Academy

Science teacher Luke Graham, who also lectures at the University of Exeter, leads the teaching on the Meitner Day tour, aided by playwright Vince Miles. Sarah White plays Lise Meitner; Tony Lidington and Dan Ball playing noted scientists Max Planck, Ludvig Boltzman, Otto Hahn and Otto Robert Frisch. In addition to the support from IOP, Meitner Day has attracted funding from a range of local and national bodies including Babcock Devon Education Fund, University of Exeter, The Ogden Trust, Farringdon House School Trust, Science and Technology Facilities Council, Arts Council England and the South West Nuclear Hub at Bristol University. Sally Fulford from the Ogden Trust noted: "The play is a brilliantly performed high intensity drama, which is woven into a day of nuclear physics teaching. It really brings to life the story of Lise Meitner and is inspirational".

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