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Why you should teach Einsteinian physics in your classroom

Einstein-First Project

If you’re looking to teach things like photons and black holes in fun, hands-on ways, check out this brilliant project

We recently came across Einstein-First and knew we had to share the amazing work they are doing with you, our STEM educators! The Einstein-First Project uses interactive learning methods to teach students about modern physics – think curved space, warped time, photons, black holes and quantum entanglement. They believe the current school curriculum does not provide a full explanation of the science of our universe so they’re working to update this, as well improve STEM involvement in the classroom.

We spoke to Dr. Jyoti Kaur, a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Einstein-First project who has worked on it since 2013. She shares why it’s important for students to understand Einsteinian physics and how educators can start using Einstein-First resources in their classrooms right away.

CwS: Hi Jyoti! What’s the goal of the Einstein-First Project?

J: The goal of the Einstein-First program is to transform school science education by modernising it. We strongly believe that everyone should have the opportunity to learn and understand the most up-to-date knowledge about the physical world. Our program is dedicated to bringing modern science into the classroom through interactive hands-on activities. We encourage teachers to adopt innovative teaching methods and provide them with the tools and resources they need. Our aim is to empower students to explore and fully grasp the marvels of the universe.

CwS: Why is it important for high school students to understand the concepts of Einsteinian physics?

J: Understanding the concepts of Einsteinian physics is crucial for high school students for several reasons. Firstly, it provides them with a deeper comprehension of the fundamental principles that govern the behaviour of the universe. Concepts such as curved space, time dilation, photons and phonons open up a whole new perspective on the workings of reality.

Secondly, Einsteinian physics is at the forefront of modern scientific research and technologies. Familiarity with these concepts prepares students for future academic pursuits and potential careers in STEM fields, where a solid foundation in Einsteinian physics can be highly valuable.

Lastly, comprehending Einsteinian physics fosters an appreciation for the elegance and beauty of scientific theories. It encourages students to embrace curiosity, explore new ideas, and engage in scientific inquiry. Ultimately, understanding Einsteinian physics empowers high school students to become informed global citizens who can critically analyse scientific information, make informed decisions, and contribute to the advancements of society as a whole.

CwS: How can STEM teachers use it in the classroom now?

J: The Einstein-First team has developed resources for years 3 to 10, encompassing comprehensive lesson plans, engaging hands-on activities, effective assessments, and helpful worksheets. These valuable resources have been thoughtfully created to allow teachers the flexibility to adapt and seamlessly integrate them into their classrooms. Access to these resources is available on the official website within a password-protected area that can be obtained by reaching out to the dedicated team.

STEM teachers are encouraged to explore various avenues for incorporating the Einstein-First program into their classrooms. By utilizing these resources, teachers can bring Einsteinian physics to life in their lessons, cultivating a vibrant and dynamic learning environment. From interactive hands-on activities to stimulating discussions, teachers can spark curiosity, deepen understanding, and inspire a genuine passion for the wonders of Einsteinian physics among their students.

Additionally, teachers can leverage the expertise of the Einstein-First team by seeking guidance and support in implementing the program effectively. The team stands ready to provide assistance, answer questions, and offer insights to ensure a seamless integration of the program’s objectives into the existing STEM curriculum. Through collaboration and shared enthusiasm, teachers can unlock the potential of the Einstein-First program and empower their students to embark on a captivating journey of scientific exploration.

CwS: You also have a new initiative called Quantum Girls. Can you tell us more about that? How can teachers get involved?

J: Quantum Girls is a national project and an expansion of Einstein-First, conducted in collaboration with UWA Quantum Computing (QUISA) and the Pawsey supercomputing centre. Its primary aim is to improve students’ attitudes towards STEM, with a particular focus on empowering girls. Through this program, the team will provide specialised training to teachers, specifically female teachers, in quantum science concepts to seamlessly integrate them into their classrooms.

Quantum Girls offers a unique opportunity for students to remotely access Australia’s first educational quantum computers, namely SpinQ Gemini and SpinQ Triangulum. This access enables students to gain practical experience in coding using real quantum computers. Additionally, teachers will receive training to establish and facilitate quantum STEM clubs outside of regular school hours. To further enrich students’ quantum learning experiences, one-day quantum hackathons have been designed exclusively for students in years 7 to 12. These hackathons offer immersive and creative environments where quantum thinking takes center stage, allowing students to delve deep into the realm of quantum physics.

The Quantum Girls team is actively seeking expressions of interest from schools, teachers, and students who are eager to participate in the Quantum Girls program. By joining this initiative, schools can foster a supportive environment for girls’ engagement in STEM subjects, while teachers and students can gain invaluable insights into the exciting field of quantum science.

The Quantum Girls program serves as a stepping stone towards fostering a more inclusive and diverse future in STEM, empowering young minds, and inspiring the next generation of scientific innovators.

Want to get involved? Find out more about Einstein-First here, and more about Quantum Girls here.

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