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Igniting interest

Dianna Cowern, better known as Physics Girl is using her video channel to drive interest in STEM content

Gitex, Gitex Technology Week

GITEX Times: What are some of the key messages that you want to deliver when you are here for GITEX? Dianna Cowern: I have been to the UAE once before! I visited Dubai in 2018 for the Global Education and Skills Forum. While in Dubai this year for GITEX, I am eager to discuss the role online videos can play in traditional education. I’m hoping to spark a little curiosity for physics and remind adults and students alike that seeking answers to your own questions can enhance learning, and keep life more interesting!

GT: How did you start with Physics Girl? What ‘educational need’ did you want to address with your show and how did that evolve in the last four years? Cowern: Physics Girl started as a hobby; I created a few videos in my room shortly after graduating college. It evolved into a project that achieved many of my goals - to share my passion for science, to inspire girls and boys to take an interest in physics, and to keep learning, myself. With Physics Girl, I often aim to spark the initial curiosity in a subject, or to illustrate how to ask your own questions. But I think teachers will always be imperative in encouraging and facilitating further learning beyond an initial interest in the subject.

GT: How do you think you will build on your YouTube audience in the future? Are you moving on to events? Or publishing? Or other longer format video content, distributed through conventional TV? Cowern: For the foreseeable
future, I will continue to make YouTube videos but the focus may change. We have recently travelled to CERN and LIGO among other places where we can interviewscientists and feature modern research. I’m also excited to do more collaborations with nontraditional personalities like athletes, or musicians to reach a broader audience. All of my content is available on the PBS Learning Media website, which is made to be more school-friendly than YouTube. I don’t have any other solid plans for partnerships with schools, though a project aligned with science standards or with an established youth group like the Girl Scouts would be great!

“With Physics Girl, I often aim to spark the initial curiosity in a subject, or to illustrate how to ask your own questions. But I think teachers will always be imperative in encouraging and facilitating further learning beyond an initial interest in the subject”

GT: How is video content changing education? Cowern: Some kids get into science because they got to make a robot, some because they loved volcanos, some because they visited a zoo and fell in love with the animals. The first spark of interest comes from so many different places, so I think the breadth of science and educational video content online provides many more opportunities to attract kids with diverse interests.


GT: What other technologies do you think have the potential to vastly change education? Cower: I think the potential for technology to improve education will come more from the creativity of the application than from the complexity of the technology.

GT: How often are you publishing videos? Cowern: I publish a new video every 2-3 weeks. Sometimes we delay the videos schedule when working with trickier subject matter, or we are particularly excited about the video and want to spend extra time on research or visuals. Physics Girl will be appearing on the 12:40, Vertical Stage 2, Education track

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