Home' Teacher : July 2010 Contents LOOKING INTO PRACTICE 23
T he y 'd chosen physics as an elective, and
they were just as negative.
I know that physics is generally viewed
as difficult, a boy thing, and that my school
has lots of girls from lower socioeconomic
backgrounds where the mums traditionally
do the cooking and the dads traditionally
fix the car, so the girls' views about phys-
ics were probably not so surprising, if not
The question for me was how I might
change their thinking, how I might help
them see that they can do physics, that phys-
ics is an interesting and exciting subject, not
something to be scared of, and not just for
There have been many studies looking
at the attitudes of girls towards physics,
examining why the number of girls at sen-
ior levels is decreasing. It seems that phys-
ics teaching fails to engage the interests of
girls, or include ways of learning that girls
Girls need to believe that girls and boys
can do physics and that physics helps to
improve our lives. The Year 10s were pre-
paring to study electronics. In an effort to
create a bit of interest and excitement, I'd
re-titled the unit 'How stuff works.' The
unit was going to be all about real-life
During the school holidays, I had been
scouting around for broken electrical equip-
ment. I asked the girls to bring in house-
hold electrical items that were broken or no
By the first few days of term following
the holidays, we'd collected a radio alarm
clock, an MP3 player, a tape deck, a DVD
player and a computer. I was starting to get
Thursday was the day we planned to
begin our 'deconstruction,' but unfortu-
nately the Year 11s had booked the lab.
Okay, I thought, we'll switch to Plan B and
do theory. After all, we do need to finish
our worksheets. Then I stopped and asked
myself, who needs the lab? It was now or
We trekked all our household electrical
junk up to the second-floor classroom. I
handed out safety glasses and screwdrivers,
and let the girls choose which object to pull
My instructions were to look for electri-
cal components, then remove these and stick
them to the prac sheet next to the correct
symbol and picture.
Five minutes in and the talk began.
'Miss, how do we pull it apart?'
'How do I do this?'
'Cool, thanks Miss. I never useda screw-
'Yeah, my dad never lets me into the
shed. He says it's a male-only space.'
'Can we smash it with the hammer?'
I was starting to get a little worried.
My teaching colleague next door peered
through the glass as she shut the door con-
necting the two rooms.
We were making a lot of noise. Maybe I
should've waited for the lab. Then, just as I
was going to ask them to pack up, 'No way!
Check this one,' screamed Nina.*
Nina's group had broken into the tape
deck. All of the girls came running over to
look. 'Look at all the transistors,' said one.
'No, those are resistors,' said another.
'See all the coloured stripy things?'
'Can you pull out the speakers? Cool!
Check out the switch.'
'Hey,' called Shirlene* from another
desk. 'I think I found some LEDs. They're
green and, oh, there's a pink one.'
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