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The Girls’ Physics Championship seeks to increase diversity in science

The Girls’ Physics Championship seeks to increase diversity in science

Making science more inclusive and diverse in a scenario where great talents often do not receive support to develop their skills. To this end, the International Institute of Physics of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte (IIF/UFRN), in partnership with other educational institutions, created the Physics Championship for Girls (TFM). The first edition was held last year, and more than 1,700 participants participated. Registration for the new edition, in 2024, is open – the first phase is online and will take place on August 28; The second in-person phase will take place on October 2nd.

Professor Klaus Kappel, responsible for the development of educational activities at IIF, says that the idea of ​​TFM arose from the perspective of identifying highly skilled students, in a context where these talents are often undervalued:

“And it goes unnoticed in schools and at graduation ceremonies…so Brazil ends up wasting a lot of talent by not recognizing or providing adequate support to these highly skilled people – and they are not necessarily the student with the tenth grade as proof. And sometimes “It’s the opposite”he declares.

The professor explains that in the national and international scientific Olympiads, there is a decrease in the participation of girls in these competitions that are held in various fields of knowledge. Klaus explains that this inequality scenario is particularly exacerbated in physics, and also highlights that this problem is not only in Brazil, but in many other countries around the world.

In an effort to understand the drivers of this scenario, it was understood that the disparity in academic and emotional achievement between girls and boys in adolescence is one of the reasons that contribute to this disparity.

“Girls did not feel encouraged at these Olympics, because they already realize that it is a boy-dominated environment.”The teacher evaluates.

Recognizing the need to create a more inclusive competitive environment for girls, the International Institute of Physics has developed a Physics Championship exclusively for them. “Not to segregate girls, but to build another gateway into the Olympic Games systems, to invite more girls to participate and create an environment where they feel more welcome.”says Klaus Kappel.

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In its first edition, the tournament, which attracted nearly 2,000 participants from all regions of Brazil, was recognized by the Brazilian Physics Society (SBF) and the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) as a National Science Olympiad – the latter. The second edition of TFM will also be funded.

Olympic girls

The Girls Physics Championship emerged from the Brazilian Girls Olympic Movement, which was coordinated by computer scientist, philosopher and professor Nara Bigulin. This is what the professor at the Federal Institute of Northern Minas Gerais (IFNMG) and TFM coordinator, María Luisa Miguez, explains. She says the girls’ physics championship comes after the emergence of the girls’ mathematics championship (TM²) and the women’s computing championship.

“I think it’s symbolic that physics is last, to show how masculine this environment is.”Maria Luisa says.

It also highlights the Girls Olympic Movement as a space that integrates these different competitions for girls, a “Centralization of activities”.

“We realize that student Olympians are always the same, doing different things. Therefore, if you have coordination of activities, and people who think in several areas at the same time, as is the idea of ​​the Meninas Olímpicas project, you will end up being able to reach a greater number Of girls and parallel projects.

The teacher explains that the number of girls winning prizes in the Science Olympiad is always very low, especially in the fields of computers and physics.

“Recently, we mapped out the girls who represented Brazil in international competitions. Brazil has been participating in international competitions since 2000. In these competitions, at least 200 people or more had to participate, and there were only about 10 girls participating.” .Highlights.

In the face of a scenario that is still very masculine, María Luisa believes that the support of male teachers, who constitute the majority in physics, is essential for more girls to feel interested in science and be encouraged to participate in science competitions.

New in the 2024 edition

In light of the partnerships established for the second edition, Professor Fernando Willison, Academic Coordinator of the Girls Physics Championship, highlights the opportunity for the winning participants to compete in selections for the International Physics Olympiad (OIF) – a feat already achieved in the first edition, but which is now an official part of the tournament. . With this event, it is another opportunity for girls in physics to represent the country in international competitions.

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Another innovation in this second edition is the inclusion of girls studying in the eighth and ninth grades of primary school, which raises expectations for the participation of more girls.

Furthermore, the Girls’ Physics Championship is used by higher education institutions as an entry means, providing another option, in addition to entrance exams, for entry into an undergraduate programme. Fernando Willison explains that since the first edition of the tournament, the Estadual Paulista University (Unesp) has already used TFM as a means of entry, and now other universities in the country have shown the same interest.

Students selected in the tournament will also have the opportunity to participate in a week of scientific immersion at the Institute of International Finance, an initiative that is part of the Institute’s events program and has now been created as an integral part of the programme.

One of the positive points highlighted by the TFM Academic Coordinator from the first edition of the tournament is the large participation of girls from within the country. “We had a lot of participation from students from inner cities, cities that don’t normally have many award-winning students, and we don’t see students participating in Science Olympiad. We saw that as a very positive result, because it shows, in a way, that the Olympics has A reason for its existence.highlights Fernando Willison.

Professor María Luisa Miguez explains that this comprehension result for the first edition is a reflection of the format of the Physics Championship for Girls, since in the second phase of the competition, the test is administered in person at the schools of the participating students. It also highlights achievement.

“This has helped with the absorption of the Olympics. So this is probably the main victory.”says Maria Luisa. “It was our main goal and I think we were able to achieve it successfully – to accommodate the Olympic Games.”

Registration for the Girls’ Physics Championship

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Students can register for TFM until August 16. First stage test application. Which will be online on August 28th. The second phase, in person, will take place on October 2nd.

Students enrolled in the eighth and ninth grades of elementary school in Level A and students enrolled in high school in Level B can participate.

More information about registration for the 2024 edition of the Girls Physics Championship can be found at: location From competition.

International Institute of Physics

IFF is related to UFRN, but with international operations. Founded with two main missions and a third, more recent mission, the International Institute of Physics is a beacon of research, education, and inclusivity in the world of physics. The Girls’ Physics Championship is just one part of the institute’s entire range of educational activities.

The first core mission of IIF is to advance the frontiers of research in theoretical and computational physics. This institute addresses innovative and comprehensive topics and is committed to sharing its discoveries with the world, transcending academic boundaries. With researchers from across Brazil and the world, the doors are open to researchers who want to contribute to this collaborative environment.

Its second mission is to hold various events in the fields of physics and related sciences. These events range from international conferences in physics to high-level schools, providing opportunities to exchange and improve scientific knowledge. IIF’s contribution to these events highlights Brazilian research and its ability to compete globally.

Recently, the Institute of International Finance introduced its third mission – education. Since creating more undergraduate or graduate courses in physics would have limited impact, the Institute chose to focus on specific audiences. Its goal is to identify young talents throughout Brazil and provide them with opportunities and educational support that spark their interest in science.

In addition, IIF works in partnership with educational institutions across the country to identify and support students with special abilities and a distinctive approach to problem solving.

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