Education and outreach
Inspire and celebrate: meet some of our volunteers
There are many ways you can take part in the IOP. We find out why four members got active in their regional branches.
Help us to reach out to everybody with an interest in physics and inspire more people to get involved.
Our volunteers bring physics to new audiences, inform policy and create networks of physicists across the globe.
Our thousands of volunteers:
- organise public events
- influence policy makers
- support and mentor other physicists
- tweet and blog to promote campaigns
- get young people interested in physics
- run local branches and special interest groups
Recognising the work of our volunteers, Institute Chief Executive, Paul Hardaker said: “The work of the IOP’s volunteers is a vital part of helping us to inspire, represent and celebrate everybody who shares a passion for physics and, to me, our active members and volunteers are the truest expression of IOP and its mission.”
Engage and encourage
Nations and Branches Manager Paul Williams said: “The IOP’s purpose is to engage with people and encourage their enjoyment of physics and we could not do that without our active members – they are our lifeblood. We would not be able to do what we do without them.
Our volunteers give back, share their expertise and shape our programme of activities – at whatever stage of their career.”
- Join special interest groups to be at the heart of the physics community.
- Become part of a branch to get active in your region. Download our branch information sheet to learn more.
- Stand for election to have a role in shaping the Institute.
- Promote physics for everyone with outreach events across the country.
Volunteers in our regional branches explain the rewards of sharing physics with new audiences and their science communities.
Elizabeth Cunningham – South Central Branch
“I joined the committee to share my passion and interest in physics more widely.”
I love when a committee member comes to a meeting with a great idea for something they want to do for our branch membership or for physics outreach in our region. As chair, the IOP enables me to nurture and support those ideas and see them realised.
I joined the committee to better share my passion and interest in physics more widely - the IOP branch system is a great way to get support for small or large ideas in physics outreach and public engagement.
I find being on the committee immensely rewarding. In the South Central Branch we have a great group of people who enjoy sharing their interests in physics so much they volunteer to do it in their own time!
Our local community benefits from the large range of events we run - from a toddler science story time to evening public physics lectures. We are able to run programmes on the physics and for the audiences they care about the most.
Dilwyn Jones – member of our North East Branch
“I felt I could contribute contacts, physics knowledge and experience.”
I use my network to broaden the range of branch lectures to incorporate colour science, materials and industrial physics. I enjoy improving links with schools and organising events in the south of our region. We have a checklist for engaging with schools.
I started to have more time, and responded to an urgent call for committee members. I felt I could contribute contacts, physics knowledge and experience of committees and reach out to IOP members and working scientists.
Working on the committee has improved my appreciation of science teaching and outreach. I have enjoyed the outreach activities I have helped with. I feel I have improved the breadth of topics offered to the community.
Angelina Anderson Groves – Chair of our North East Branch
“I have enjoyed raising awareness of the flexibility and viability of studying physics at all levels.”
Having over 20 years of experience teaching physics, science and maths, I have enjoyed being able to use my skills in science communication to volunteer at a variety of outreach events across the north east, for example, at the science busking at the Sunderland Airshow.
I am keen to spread the word about how we use physics in our everyday lives. Being a committee member and a volunteer at IOP events allows me to do this with a wide and varied audience of all ages and backgrounds in a fully inclusive way.
Being a committee member and a branch chair has allowed me to appreciate helping people with science capital who want to find ways of getting into physics and/or use the physics knowledge they already have to the best of their ability to help them to reach their full potential. I have also enjoyed raising awareness of the flexibility and viability of studying physics at all levels, including how physics can be used across a wide variety of careers.
Deborah Phelps – former Council member, East Midlands Branch and East Midlands committee member
“It’s about the physics community and finding ways to share physics with everyone.”
I started my IOP volunteer adventure at a Physics in the Field event – it was fun. I volunteered for more events. Someone asked if I’d like to join the branch committee to help organise more events. As a recent graduate working in industry I felt really honoured to be asked.
I had assumed the committee was always full, that they had lots of great people with much more experience and knowledge than me and it wasn’t people like me that they needed.
Since joining the committee I know this is not true - there is always space for more volunteers. We have more ideas than we have volunteers to make it all happen and everyone’s ideas are very welcome. I was made to feel very welcome and useful and when the Midlands committee split in to east and west committees I was elected to be Secretary of the East Midlands Branch.
Working in an engineering company I sometimes feel very distant from physics. I don’t always feel like a physicist, but neither do I really feel like an engineer. I think that’s why I enjoy the nations and branches so much. I feel it’s not about any one topic. It’s about the physics community and finding ways to share physics with everyone.
I’ve been able to demonstrate organisation and leadership skills through my IOP role. I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many great people in my branch and other nations and branches.
In the East Midlands we launched our IOP badge for Girlguiding which combines two of my hobbies – this is probably the highlight of my time with nations and branches. It started with a chat about who we might like to reach with our activities and now we’ve have a real thing, with real badges, that Girlguiding members seem to be as excited about as we are.