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Science Backstage

 explore how physics works and what physicists do

High school students examine how physics research works at the Faculty of Physics, University of Vienna, what research methods are used as well as how scientific communities co-operate. The research groups involved in this course include quantum optics, nano materials and nuclear physics.

In general, the public does not know what scientists do while researching. This fact applies particularly to physics. Physics is generally considered as a cognitively difficult matter which is only accessible to some, mostly male, people. Physics lessons in high school, but also teacher training is geared toward the systematic science curriculum. Student teachers as well as in-service teachers have not developed an adequate view of physics as a research discipline nor of the every-day work of researchers.

By its objectives and methods, the project tries to bridge this gap between school and research, as the scientific community and its processes can be understood as well as the nature of science.

The pivotal point is the ethnographical research process of high school students in real research environments at university. The scientists are, on the one hand, “the ones under scrutiny” but are also actively involved in the research process. They are, as well as the other participants of this project (high school students, teachers and student teachers), involved in the planning and analyzing of data. At the end the results are presented by both high school students and scientists.

We expect, as a result of this project, a shift in beliefs about the nature of science from all participants. This includes a reflection of the gender connotation of the subject. This could also lead to a higher motivation to study physics.

The following concrete „products“ are planned:

  • Development and dissemination of lesson concepts that deal with the nature of science
  • Development of concepts for a sustainable co-operation between schools and the faculty of physics
  • Development of target-group aligned concepts for the external presentation of physics research

Project Manager

Univ.-Prof. Dr. Martin Hopf, University of Vienna, AECC Physics (Austrian Educational Competence Center Physics)



Mag.a Ilse Bartosch, University of Vienna, Faculty of Physics, Physics Education and e-learning



Scientific Co-operation Partners

    • University of Vienna, Faculty of Physics, Isotope Research and Nuclear Physics
    • University of Vienna, Faculty of Physics, Physics of Nanostructured Materials, Vienna
    • Institute of Science Communication and Higher Education Research, Faculty for Interdisciplinary Studies (IFF), University of Klagenfurt
    • University of Vienna, Department for Cultural and Social Anthropology, Vienna

    Participating Schools

    • BG/BRG 10, Laaer-Berg-Straße, Vienna
    • Gymnasium und wirtschaftskundliches Realgymnasium Maria Regina, Vienna
    • BG/BRG 22, Theodor Kramer-Straße, Vienna
    • HTBLVA Wien III, Camillo Sitte Lehranstalt, Vienna
    • Lycée Francais de Vienne

    Project Duration

    01/09/2009 – 31/08/2011

    Science Backstage is a sub-project of Sparkling Science, funded by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science and Research .

Abschlussveranstaltung: Backstage Science

28. Mai 2010, 9:00-13:00

Fakultät für Physik, Boltzmann-Hörsaal

Einladung und Details

Österreichisches Kompetenzzentrum für Didaktik der Physik
Universität Wien

Porzellangasse 4/2/2
1090 Wien
T: +43-1-4277-60330
F: +43-1-4277-860330
Universität Wien | Universitätsring 1 | 1010 Wien | T +43-1-4277-0