What is light? What is time? What is space? What is spacetime? What is gravity?
These questions keep physicists up at night and they engage young minds as well. How come students are still taught that space is a rigid entity unmoved by the bodies it accommodates? That time is absolute and exists independently of any observer? That gravity is an attractive force that acts instantaneously across long distances? After all, scientists these days know better than that.
Promoting STEM involvement
Physicists from the University of Western Australia took the outdated school curricula in Australia as the starting point to initiate Einstein-First.
Einstein-First is an educational project run by physicists and educators who collaborate with the Gravity Discovery Centre, the AEC Centre of Excellence for Gravitational Wave Discovery, the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, and with Norwegian physics educators from ReleQuant.
Our Australian colleagues aim to teach school students the fundamental concepts of modern physics. Doing so, the team tries to improve student attitudes towards science and promote STEM involvement in the classroom.
Norway has a leading role
Quite surprisingly, many school curricula around the world continue to favor classical physics. While Einstein-First is working hard to redesign and optimize school science in Australia to reflect the modern understanding of space and time, these topics are already part of the Norwegian physics curriculum. In fact, Norway has had a leading role in introducing concepts of quantum physics and relativity to high school students.
Three years ago, I was fortunate enough to get to join the ReleQuant team as a PhD research fellow. Since then, I have developed digital learning resources about general relativity, held workshops to share our resources with teachers, and studied students’ learning processes and motivation in physics.
Now it’s time for me to share my experience with Einstein-First - and in turn, learn from the insights the Australian team has gained through their programs in Western Australia.