School of Physics and Astrophysics

Postgraduate research profiles


Bernard James Carr

Phone: (+61 8) 6488 7055

Start date

Jan 2012

Submission date

Jan 2015


Bernard James Carr

Bernard James Carr profile photo


New Physics Drama Research Project: Efficacy Of Drama As Pedagogical Tool For Improving Student Motivation and Attitude To Science Through Teaching New Physics To Senior Primary School Students


The premise of this PhD project is that it is possible, and indeed, beneficial, to use drama to begin to teach basic concepts of New Physics (Einsteinian and Quantum) to senior primary school students (years 6 – 7). The research will test the hypothesis that introducing these topics through drama at this age level will lead to a positive change in student attitude and motivation towards science and an increase in student desire to continue science subjects at a post-compulsory level.

New Physics:

In accordance with the outcomes of the Science Education Enrichment Project (SEEP), this research project will test the following:

a) The ability of senior primary school students to understand curved space geometry, and to understand that flat space geometry is a special case, but one which for most purposes is a very useful approximation.

b) The ability of senior primary school students to understand basic concepts of both quantum physics and Einstein's general relativity, while also understanding that Newtonian physics is a useful approximation.

c) Whether this drama approach to teaching new physics helps to improve student attitudes and motivation to physics by presenting physics as a frontier of learning with many mysteries and problems still to be solved.

Why my research is important

This project is designed not only to test whether a multi-disciplinary pedagogical approach of drama and science can increase understanding of New Physics to students of Year 6-7, but more importantly, if it will lead to an increase in student motivation and desire to continue science at a post-compulsory level. The latter will be the subject of a longitudinal study.

The significance of increasing student uptake of post-compulsory science has been stated most emphatically by the Science Education Enrichment Project Paper:

Australian schools and universities are not producing enough scientists and engineers to sustain the scientific and economic development of Australia. Despite science and technology being key factors contributing to the economic growth and social prosperity in both advanced and developing nations, there is a worldwide phenomenon of declining student attitudes to science in developed nations, including the UK, Europe, the US as well as Australia. Within Australia this phenomenon has been referred to as a crisis because it has resulted in a decreasing proportion of students taking post-compulsory science. The problem of poor student attitudes towards science and falling enrolments in science subjects at the secondary and tertiary levels of education is of critical importance to the scientific and economic development of Australia.

(Blair,Venville & Zadnik, 2008)


  • The ‘Gravity Discovery Centre Education Enrichment Ad Hoc Scholarship’ is funded through the UWA Physics Department’s ‘ARC Linkage Science Education Enrichment Project.’


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