OzGrav Feeding Fertile Minds
One of Australia’s premier science organisations is finding new ways to engage with the public through education and outreach.
Our lives have all been disrupted in various ways by COVID-19, but one of the more positive stories to come out of the pandemic is the generosity of individuals and organisations who are devoting their time and resources to help with our kids’ education. In this regard, OzGrav, the ARC Centre of Excellence for Gravitational Wave Discovery, is leading the way, with outreach programs and school incursions that will both excite and educate secondary students in physics and astronomy.
A Brief History of Gravitational Wave Discovery
OzGrav’s Jackie Bondell, a former physics instructor and qualified astrophysicist, is piloting virtual incursion sessions with teachers, students, and parents about the history of gravitational wave discoveries and other space and science-related topics. I spoke with Jackie after her first session facilitating the Brief History of Gravitational Wave Discovery program with an extension Year 7 class.
“This is something we will continue to offer in addition to providing supplemental content for teachers. The goal is to support teachers with new science content that is relevant to some of the curriculum they are teaching whether that be through me presenting to their classes or them using the resources we develop”.
That means that all of the lessons are appropriately scaled to the age and level of the audience and that everyone gets the most out of their time. Jackie and OzGrav are also hoping to bring the incursions into classrooms and homes in regional and remote areas of Australia, particularly to those students who may not normally have access to science excursions.
Since the first observation of gravitational waves in 2015, the science of detecting and interpreting gravitational wave events has become more advanced with increasingly precise and frequent observations. But the OzGrav face-to-face sessions are not just about keeping up with the latest in gravitational-wave science. Depending on the audience, they also cover relativity, spacetime, lasers, and black holes, and include interactive web-based activities that focus on scientific inquiry processes.
The remote version of the lessons is delivered via a password-protected Zoom session and is free of charge for interested schools. The lessons are aligned to the school curriculum so teachers can incorporate them straight into their normal classroom lessons. Each session runs for about 35 to 50 minutes.
At a time when virtual learning is at an all-time high due to social distancing and other related restrictions, this is a great concept through which kids and adults alike can be sure they are engaging with an expert who can communicate the science at an appropriate level. And this is only one of the planned OzGrav education and public outreach activities, so stay tuned for more unique and immersive ways to engage in science!
Enquiries about Brief History of Gravitational Wave Discovery sessions should be directed through OzGrav.