Bethany Wootton

Cropped version of Bethany W's photoDegree: MPhys Physics and Astrophysics

During her time at Sheffield, Bethany took the Physics Education and Outreach module, during which she created a plush toy of the star Betelgeuse that she used alongside a video to teach groups of Brownies about space. Through this, Bethany found her true calling: inspiring others to take part in science.

"I believe that encouraging younger generations to take an interest in science is extremely important. Coming from an all girls’ high school, I was all too aware that there is a stigma attached with girls pursuing a career in physics. For these reasons, the third year Physics Education and Outreach module really appealed to me. It gave me a chance to talk to young children about why I chose to study physics and astrophysics at university.

"Astronomy is one of the oldest sciences and stargazing requires no specialist tools. To this end, for my final project in this module, I created the star Betelgeuse (located in the constellation of Orion) as an educational cuddly toy, to help entice children into astronomy. This toy was presented to a local Brownies group along with an educational video about Betelgeuse and the history behind the constellation it resides in.

"The lecturers who ran the module, Dr Susan Cartwright and Dr Katherine Inskip, gave seminars to help us think about the issues with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) learning and what improvements/innovations are being put in place to help solve these issues. We also had a “book club” where we read papers which we would critically discuss in the lectures. These lectures were a tool for thinking of new ways to connect with the younger generation and help persuade them that physics is an interesting and fun topic to choose as a career path.

"As a result of this module, I hope to continue to make educational toys for the next generation of potential physicists and encourage them to see the night sky and astronomy in a new light."

Cropped version of Bethany W's project star