Trinity Students Bring Physics to DART Commuters
Dec 09, 2013
Students from Trinity College Dublin’s School of Physics actively engaged the city’s DART commuters in discussion about the science around them in a targeted outreach project linked to the ‘DARTofPhysics’ campaign that has been running for the past seven weeks.
Trinity undergraduates and postgraduates performed a series of eye-catching demonstrations at Pearse Street station. Each demo showcased physics in just one to two minutes, thereby making it accessible to people waiting to catch their trains.
In addition, commuters were met by students wearing brightly coloured ‘DARTofPhysics’ T-shirts on DART trains. These students initiated physics-based discussion with their fellow passengers, and explained conundrums such as why ‘most of the light around us is invisible,’ and why ‘the spire is shorter when it’s cold’. Those who chatted to the students and tweeted pictures of them, with the hashtag #DARTofPhysics, were entered into a draw to win an iPad mini.
Professor of Physics at Trinity, Shane Bergin, who has helped to spearhead the initiative, said: “Trinity College Physics students took physics directly to Dubliners. They were on the DART talking to commuters about why they’re hot (thermodynamically), attractive (gravitationally), and made from stardust.”
‘DARTofPhysics’ has been running a series of 12 advertisement cards on the DART and in DART stations. These have included physics statements and puzzles to interest commuters in the hope of starting a city-wide conversation around physics.
The website has acted as a hub for the project. A series of blogs written by leading scientists and science enthusiasts have linked to various physics topics and profiled a variety of physics careers. The website has also expanded on the physics topics mentioned in the DART ads, and been a source for teachers to cover exciting topics in class.
The DARTofPhysics initiative has been jointly led by the Schools of Physics and Education at Trinity after Professor Bergin won the 2012 ‘Designs for Learning’ competition for putting forward his vision for bringing physics to the masses in Dublin.
Dr Jessamyn Fairfield of CRANN, who has also been heavily involved, was the recent recipient of the Early Career Physics Communicator Award after impressing judges with her enthusiasm and commitment for finding funding for the project. It has been supported by the Schools of Physics and Education at Trinity, Science Foundation Ireland, Intel Ireland, the Metro Herald, IQ-Content, Language and Irish Rail.
Associate Professor in Education at Trinity, Colette Murphy, said: “Teachers have been using DARTofPhysics lessons in school to help break down barriers to learning science.” Ms. Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin, also from Trinity’s School of Education, added: "It has been really encouraging to hear how people have enjoyed reading about physics on their train journeys over the past six weeks. DARTofPhysics definitely brought some colour to the daily commute!"
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