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"Physics and Life" for Europe's Science Teachers

What do you know about modern science? Was your school science teacher inspiring and enthusiastic? Or was physics class a good time to take a nap?

Geneva, 4 April 2003. EIROforum1, the group of seven leading European Research Organizations including CERN2, is launching "Physics On Stage 3". The aim is to stimulate the interest of young people through their school teachers, who can play a key role in reversing the trend of falling interest in science and current scientific research.

Unfortunately, many young Europeans don't have the fondest memories of science in school, and the result is a widespread disinterest and lack of understanding of science among adults. This has become a real problem - especially at a time when science is having a growing impact on our daily lives, and when society needs more scientists than ever.

What can be done? Some of Europe's leading research organisations, scientists and teachers have put their heads together and come up with a unique approach called "Physics on Stage". This will be the third year that these institutes, with substantial support from the European Commission, are running this project - attacking the problem at its roots.

"Physics On Stage 3" is based on the very successful "Physics On Stage" concept that was introduced in 2000. It is directed towards science teachers and students in Europe's secondary schools. It is a part of the year-long build-up to the European Science and Technology Week 2003 (3-9 November), an initiative by the European Commission, and is run by seven of Europe's leading Intergovernmental Research Organizations.

The theme of "Physics on Stage 3" is "Physics and Life", reflecting the decision to broaden the Physics on Stage activities to encompass all the natural sciences. Including other sciences will augment the already successful concept, introducing a mixture of cross-over projects that highlight the multidisciplinary aspects of modern science. Among the many subjects to be presented are radiation, physics and the environment, astrobiology (the search for life beyond earth), complex systems, self-organising systems, sports science, the medical applications of physics, mathematics and epidemiology, etc.

Innovative and inspirational science teaching is seen as a key component to attract young people to deal with scientific issues, whether or not they finally choose a career in science. Hence "Physics on Stage 3" addresses the content and format of science teaching in European schools, seeking to improve the quality of teaching and to find new ways to stimulate pupils to take an interest in science.

"Physics on Stage 3" also aims to facilitate the exchange of good practice and innovative ideas among Europe's science teachers and to provide a forum for a broad debate among educators, administrators and policy-makers about the key problems in science education today. Moreover, it will make available the considerable, combined expertise of the EIROforum organisations to the European scientific teaching community, in order to promote the introduction of "fresh" science into the curricula and thus to convey a more realistic image of modern science to the pupils.

"Physics on Stage 3" is concerned with basic science and also with the cross-over between different science disciplines - a trend becoming more and more important in today's science, which is not normally reflected in school curricula. A key element of the programme is to give teachers an up-to-date "insiders'" view of what is happening in science and to tell them about new, highly-diverse and interesting career opportunities for their pupils.

National activities

"Physics on Stage 3" has already started and National Steering Committees in 22 countries, composed of eminent science teachers, scientists, administrators and others involved in setting school curricula, are now preparing related programs in their countries. Through these national activities, outstanding individuals will be selected to represent their teachers' communities at the final international event, the "Physics on Stage 3" festival. A list of national contact points is below.

International festival

The high-profile "festival" during the European Science and Technology Week 2003 will stimulate the dissemination of successful education tools and methods, identify the most effective ways to support teachers and motivate novel developments in science education. It will take place at the ESA-ESTEC site in Noordwijk (The Netherlands), from November 8 - 15, 2003. The climax of the event will be the presentation of the European Science Teaching Awards, in recognition of teaching excellence, inspiration and motivation of young people.

Online Resource Archive

An online archive of the best teaching materials and practices in Europe will be established, forming a unique 'resource centre', which will make available all of the interesting materials identified through the programme and provide a forum for exchange which will last well beyond the duration of the activity.

Press Contact at CERN

Dr James Gillies
CERN Press Office
1211 Geneva 23
Tel: +41 22 767 4101
Email: James.Gillies@cern.ch

Click here for full information about "Physics on Stage 3"

This Press Release is issued jointly by the seven EIROforum partners. Associated organisations in the "Physics on Stage 3" programme include the European Physical Society (EPS) and the European Association for Astronomy Education (EAAE).

List of national contact points

Check here for the most updated information in the national homepages.

For further information about Physics on Stage in general, please contact:

Helen Wilson
European Space Agency
Postbus 299
2200 AG Noordwijk
The Netherlands
+31 71 565 5518 (tel)
+31 71 565 5590 (fax) or
Email : Physics.on.Stage@esa.int

1. EIROform members are the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), European Space Agency (ESA), European Southern Observatory (ESO), European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF), Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL), European Fusion Development Agreement (EFDA).
2. CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, has its headquarters in Geneva. At present, its Member States are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. India, Israel, Japan, the Russian Federation, the United States of America, Turkey, the European Commission and UNESCO have observer status.