Studying physics does not have to be daunting. That’s what Year 10 girls found out when they attended the Tall Poppies workshop held at Griffith University.
The Gold Coast students were seven of only 23 teenagers in the state who have been offered the opportunity to participate in the unique science experience. The workshop encourages young women to enjoy and study physics.
Griffith’s Dr Erik Streed, who helps run the workshop along with colleagues Tim Gould, Eric Cavalcanti, and Adam Palmer, says more people are needed in physics, particularly women, so it was important students were encouraged from a young age.
Bachelor of Science student Claire Cranitch is studying a physics major and has worked in Dr Streed’s lab at the Institute for Glycomics on a summer scholarship.
The third-year student has seen firsthand that studying physics isn’t daunting and was on hand at the workshop to inspire other girls to follow in her footsteps, showing them how to trap particles in a dust trap.
Quantum mechanics explained
The students learned about the weird world of quantum mechanics, where the familiar rules of reality no longer hold. They performed experiments and activities to get acquainted with some of the basic quantum principles, such as entanglement and superposition, and learned about how quantum laws will power the technologies of the future.
“I’m trying to make it less scary than it is,” says Claire.
“I think they think it’s a bit more daunting than it is because there’s a stigma around physics being a particularly hard subject.
“It’s basic experiences in every day life. If you understand a bit about what’s going on around you, you understand the world you’re living in.”
Palm Beach Currumbin State High School students Amy Cooper and Annika Danielsen discovered just that.
“When I first came I didn’t know too much about physics. We had done a unit on it at school but this really opened up my eyes,” says Annika, 15.
“I learned quite a lot and now it’s something I might look into in the future because I didn’t think a lot about getting into that area.”
Annika’s mum Tanja Danielsen says the workshop was something more school students should experience.
“It was a great opportunity for the girls to have a little taste of physics and university life and how it’s structured,” she says.
“It opens doors to the science world for all these girls.”
Find out more about studying science and physics at Griffith.