What’s wrong with physics for girls?

Did you know you can stick a big pointy skewer right through a balloon and it won’t pop?

Or use a sieve full of holes to hold water? Or make milk psychedelic? Or build your own hovercraft? Super cool experiments for kids (see below to find out how) all using the appliance of physics.

Did you know that physics skills can lead children into all sorts of careers?

And we’re not just talking about scientists in laboratories. Chefs, gymnasts, poker players

Here’s Masterchef finalist Aki Matshushima explaining how she uses physics in her work.

And did you know that in the UK in 2011 49% of co-ed schools sent no girls on to A-level physics?

Not one girl.

How to give your girls the opportunities of physics

The Institute of Physics has just launched an ‘It’s Different for Girls‘ campaign to promote physics to young girls. On a global platform the UK needs to have this skills set, but on a personal level our children could be missing out on a huge array for careers where physics is vital.

The campaign reports gender stereotyping as the main reason girls aren’t going on to study physics, and includes teacher and headteacher attitudes. As parents there’s a lot we can do at home and through school to give our daughters the opportunity to benefit from physics, including

:: challenging stereotypes

:: create a positive environment, giving our children the chance to try out fun, hands-on experiments (see the ideas below) and going on physics-inspired family days out

:: questioning potential schools about their approach to physics

Take a look at these resources for more ideas to use with your children, both at home and ones to share with school:

It’s Different for Girls: Parents’ pack

It’s Different for Girls: The influence of schools  

It’s Different for Girls: How can senior leaders in schools support the take-up of A-level physics by girls?  

It’s Different for Girls: How can parents support the take-up of A-level physics by girls?

6 super cool physics experiment for kids

Studying physics is full of awe and wonder for children. My girls got to try a ‘super cool’ experiment when we met some of the people from the Institute of Physics at the Just So Festival in the summer.  Did you know you can stick a big pointy skewer right through a balloon and it won’t pop? Just make sure you have physics on your side and stick the skewer through the two places on the balloon where the skin is thicker (right at the bottom and top).

The Institute of Physics has a whole website full of hands-on, child-focused experiments you can try at home. How about:

Making your own rainbow

Using a sieve to hold water

Making flowers change colour

Creating psychedelic milk

Or making your own hovercraft 

Give the experiments a try and give your girls the opportunities of physics!


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  1. says

    Great video! It’s a wonderful way to inspire children, by hearing someone speak with such enthusiasm about the exciting opportunities that await her. They should show these kind of videos in schools.

  2. says

    As someone with advanced degree in math, I was intrigued by this post. I went to school in the former Soviet Union, and I never felt that science was different for boys and girls or that teacher expectations were different. Now my daughter is passionately interested in all things science, and I am sad to see how little focus is put in elementary grade on this subject. Luckily, in our areas there are afterschool alternatives, such as Mad Science that excites and engages young kids regardless of gender with interesting experiments and simple explanations of how the world works.

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