Department of Physics

Postgraduate research profiles


Marina Pitts

Phone: (+61 8) 6488 2396


Start date

Mar 2010

Submission date

Marina Pitts


Leaning Towers, Solar System Walks, Student Researchers and Their Telescopes: a study of outreach centre effectiveness


The aim of this research is to investigate the effectiveness of educational programs delivered through the Gravity Discovery Centre in changing students’ attitudes towards science, student career goals, as well as their conceptual understanding of relevant science concepts.

Why my research is important

This research will add to the knowledge base particularly with regard to science education in informal contexts, student involvement in original scientific investigation, student understanding of astronomical concepts and students’ attitudes towards science and careers in science. While there has been considerable research into students’ understanding of science and their attitudes as a result of formal instruction, there has been relatively little research on the impact of informal learning in science centres such as the Gravity Discovery Centre. The nation needs to know the best approach to address the declining numbers of students studying science at tertiary level. The current shortage of science teachers means that some schools no longer offer upper school physics and chemistry. This means that many students are deprived of science opportunities. One solution could be the creation of more specialist science education enrichment facilities. Data is needed to inform us about the benefits of such facilities. This research is designed to provide that data, which could inform future investment in the education sector. Australia is world renowned in astronomy. To maintain our edge and to maintain the levels of expertise to support projects such as the International Square Kilometre Array project and the Australian International Gravitational Observatory, increasing numbers of expert scientists will be required.


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