It is well documented that female students show greater engagement with the biological and health sciences while male students gravitate towards the physical sciences.
The School of Engineering is currently working with a couple of grade six classes from St Mary’s College Junior School and St Virgil’s College Junior School to investigate the efficacy of an interdisciplinary program to encourage students out of their academic comfort zones and into subjects where they are under-represented. In practical terms, this translates into fostering boys’ and girls’ curiosity for and engagement with Biology and Physics, respectively.
It is expected that the integration of these disciplines at the middle school level will provide students with a foundational knowledge base in these areas together with an enhanced awareness of their intersection. Assuming that further reinforcement of this intersection is experienced during high school, by the time students reach tertiary education they will be acutely aware of the strong connections between biology and physics.
Project implementation has been through a series of hands-on workshops focusing on biomechanics and the physics of human hearing. Workshop activities have used low-cost materials and have clearly reflected the complementary nature of Biology and Physics.
Project outcomes will include a reflective assessment of the program’s efficacy and the provision of qualitative data collected through pre- and post-intervention student surveys. A working model on how to integrate biology and physics education in middle school settings will also be proposed.
Authorised by the Head of School, Engineering
1 August, 2012