New funding supports girls exploring physics outreach

More young girls will have an opportunity to grow their physics acumen at Simon Fraser University’s Girls Exploring Physics workshop. The initiative is receiving $20,000 in funding over three years from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council’s PromoScience Program.

The funding was announced at the Canadian Association of Science Centre’s (CASC) annual conference in Vancouver.

SFU’s Girls Exploring Physics is a day-long workshop for girls in Grades 9 and 10. It focuses on hands-on physics activities, networking with female physics faculty and students, and presentations about careers in physics. Organizers say it has been found that girls tend to become less interested in physics and engineering in these grades, and the workshop provides a way to rekindle interest and introduce career possibilities.

SFU’s Department of Physics has offered these early spring workshops since 2010.

“Since then more than 450 girls from communities across the lower Mainland have participated,” says Sarah Johnson, senior lecturer in physics. “Faculty, students, staff and alumni of the department have all contributed to the workshops over the years.”

PromoScience provides financial support for organizations working with young Canadians to promote an understanding of science and engineering, including mathematics and technology.

SFU’s funding will go towards costs associated with developing new hands-on activities and creating a yearly professional development workshop for high school teachers.

The workshops, held in the Trottier Studio for Innovation Science Education, also include physics demos and an observatory tour. The Dean of Science's office, D-Wave Systems Inc. and a funding partners grant from WWEST & eng.cite also support the workshops.

The funding is part of a $4.8-million announcement by the Hon. Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science, and NSERC President Mario Pinto, during ScienceOdyssey, a 10-day national celebration of science-based activities and events across Canada.