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Physics and Life: Teachers Meet Scientists at Major EIROforum event

Geneva, 5 November 2003. A year-long educational programme culminates with the Physics on Stage 3 festival during the European Science and Technology Week on 9-15 November 2003.

More than 400 selected delegates from 22 European countries will take part in Physics on Stage 3, organised by the EIROforum research organisations (CERN1, EFDA, EMBL, ESA, ESO, ESRF, ILL) at the European Space Agency's ESTEC site in The Netherlands. This is the culmination of a year-long educational programme and is a central event during the European Science and Technology Week.

Building on the success of preceding events in 2000 and 2002, the theme this year is Physics and Life, reflecting the decision to broaden Physics on Stage activities to encompass more of the natural sciences within an interdisciplinary approach. As before, European teachers, scientists, curricula organisers and others connected to national education systems in Europe will gather with the goal of exploring ways to stimulate the interest of young people in science by means of exciting and innovative teaching methods and materials.

A rich one-week programme includes spectacular and original performances by students and professional actors, intensive encounters at a central fair where each country will present the latest developments from its teaching community, workshops about a host of crucial themes related to science teaching, and seminars where EIROforum scientists and experienced high school teachers get together to discuss new teaching opportunities based on the latest results from front-line research projects at Europe's leading science centres. A publishers' fair will serve as an international exchange for new educational materials, and a mystery cultural event will surprise everyone with its originality. Last but not least, the annual European Science Teaching Awards will be presented at the end of the meeting.

Physics on Stage is organised by EIROforum together with the European Physical Society and the European Association for Astronomy Education. The project is funded in part by the European Commission and takes place under the auspices of the European Science and Technology Week 2003. It is directed by the EIROforum Working Group on Outreach that brings together key members of the seven organisations' respective outreach departments.

His Royal Highness, Prince Johan Friso of the Netherlands, will open the festival on Monday 10 November. Among the distinguished guests will be Her Excellency Mrs. Maria van der Hoeven, the Dutch Minister of Education, Culture and Science, as well as several Directors-General of EIROforum organisations.

The festival is the most visible event of a year-long programme involving National Committees in two dozen European countries. Each of these organised national events or competitions, during which the 400 delegates to the festival were selected for their outstanding science teaching projects. Among the entries are two young physicists from Germany who focus on the beauty of physical phenomena, producing fractals and demonstrating the "Theremin", the only musical instrument played without being touched. In another demonstration, a team from the UK explores the nature of sound and the theme of genetics through drama, music and physical theatre. In this third international festival of physics education, biological and biochemical themes play a major role.

The colourful centrepiece of the week is the Fair. Every country has its own stand where delegates show new, exciting and surprising projects, innovative software or elegant experiments. In this highly inspiring atmosphere, teachers exchange practical experience and insights, learning from each other and preparing themselves to bring back to their respective countries a rich harvest of new ideas and inspiration for better science teaching.

Physics on Stage 3 is a unique international event for international exchange, opportunities for collaboration, and for encounters between the still all too separate worlds of school education and state-of-the-art science and technology.

Further information

Helen Wilson, Physics on Stage 3 Executive Coordinator:
Tel. +31 (0) 71 565 5518

Journalists wishing to take part should fax the ESTEC Communications Office on:
+31 (0) 71 565 5728

1. 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.