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Outreach Officer: Erin McNeill

Published: 24 September 2019

As Ogden Outreach Officer at the University of Leeds, it has been incredible to be a part of the growth of the Ogden Trust network and to work alongside other passionate physicists from across the country who all have the same goal of increasing the participation of underrepresented groups in physics and beyond.

I look forward to the annual meeting of Ogden Outreach Officers because we get to share best practice, get new ideas for workshops and learn from others about what worked – and also what didn’t! I’ve received really helpful feedback from fellow officers when I was reworking a LEGO Particle Physics workshop, presented alongside the Ogden Outreach Officer from the University of Manchester on how we each run our Physics Work Experience Weeks and partnered with the Outreach Officer from the University of York to run Physics@Work with the help of fantastic Ogden Trust summer interns.

Within the School of Physics and Astronomy at Leeds, I’ve seen outreach grow to be an essential part of our School’s culture, alongside teaching and research. I’m so proud that the outreach role has been made permanent within the School; this has allowed me to plan for more impactful interventions over a long term and apply for funding to support public engagement activities, including the Royal Society for Astrophysics for All and STFC for A HoLOTTA Fun with Stars.

At Leeds, undergraduate students help me to deliver SEPnet’s Connect Physics suite of workshops for Year 9 and 10 students and every January we host the Institute of Physics’ Stimulating Physics full day of CPD for 70 teachers from Yorkshire and the surrounding area. In addition to our Physics Ambassadors scheme, I am the co-module leader for Physics into Schools, an undergraduate module where our students are placed into local schools to gain experience and understanding of teaching physics in the classroom.

Tailoring our outreach programme to fit the Trust’s strategic aims has been really helpful to streamline our work and make room for more opportunities to support the University’s existing partnerships, including Into University’s FOCUS programme and the Educational Engagement’s Reach for Excellence widening participation scheme.

I’m often reminded of how connected we are as Ogden Outreach Officers when I meet undergrads who mention they won a School Physicist of the Year award or perhaps attended a physics outreach event run by an Ogden Outreach Officer at another university. It’s even better training those students to deliver outreach activities, being their reference for the Ogden Trust’s Teach Physics internships and finding out they’ve gone on to do physics teaching training in a school that’s a part a local Ogden school partnership. I’m anticipating that in a few years, I’ll meet new students who had Phiz Labs in their primary schools!

Erin McNeill Science Officer, University of Leeds
Ogden Outreach Officer
(June 2019)

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