There are many opportunities for physics students to get involved in science outreach work, usually at local schools.

It’s not just for those who are considering a future in teaching – the communication skills that outreach develops are useful for any future career that a student may choose. Increasingly, research scientists are required to communicate their work to the public as a condition of funding, so even those who plan to follow a purely academic path will find it useful to participate in outreach work. Beyond this, many who take part find it highly rewarding.

The Institute has a wide range of resources to help physicists who are interested in communicating with the public, including training workshops for postgraduates in delivering outreach activities. The workshops help to develop greater confidence and skills in delivering outreach, and they introduce a range of methods on presenting contemporary research to different types of non-specialist audiences.

The following schemes are also a good source of potential outreach activity:

Student Associates
This 15-day placement in a secondary school can help students to decide whether

teaching is for them. Students follow a structured programme of activities and have the

support of a subject mentor. They also choose a project that will make a special contribution to the school. It comes with a £600 tax-free bursary.

Science and Engineering Ambassadors
This programme is a popular choice among undergraduates, giving volunteers from scientific and mathematical disciplines the opportunity to help in schools and inspire young people. Ambassadors assist in a wide range of activities, such as judging competitions, giving talks or explaining research techniques.

STEM Ambassadors
This scheme gives students the chance to volunteer in classrooms and it can also count as an academic credit towards their degree. Students receive in-depth training before entering the classroom, where they spend 3–4 hours per week for 10 weeks as an assistant to the teacher. This is suitable for all students, not just those who are considering teaching as a career, because the programme develops many key transferable skills.

Lab in a Lorry
These mobile laboratories give young people the chance to explore science through hands-on experiments. The programme is guided by volunteers who want to share their passion for science and inspire the next generation of scientists. 

Volunteers are trained as facilitators to help children to become experimenters themselves. They use innovative equipment not normally available in schools, such as a strobe light to view a vibrating glass just before it breaks.

Physics Communicators Group
Students can also find out more about volunteering opportunities by joining the Physics Communicators Group of the Institute of Physics. Group activities include electronic networking, newsletters, conferences and seminars.

last edited: February 05, 2013