An active Girls‘ Day
Again in 2016, the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics invited 30 girls on the occasion of the nationwide Girls’ Day. Once the first shyness was overcome, the girls had lively discussions with the MPA scientists and asked many questions about astronomy and a career in science.
The programme at MPA took the school girls on a journey through the universe, with many opportunities to ask questions and to get first-hand experience of some scientific concepts. The girls visited the observatory on the MPA roof and followed the digital planetarium show “Changing Skies” in the portable dome. In a hands-on session, the girls could do various simple experiments to learn more about how to produce a spectrum, the expansion of the universe, a rocket propulsion system based on overpressure, the classification of galaxies, and many more.
After a quiet start – for many girls it was the first time visiting a scientific institute – the girls soon overcame their shyness and asked many questions about the astronomic topics raised in the planetarium presentation. And even if there was the additional hurdle of having to speak English with a number of the helpers, soon this too was no longer a problem and there were many lively discussions. Topics ranged from questions about the sky and astronomical objects to what it means to work in this field - not only as a woman but in terms of the general working conditions. In the end, the programme even took a bit longer than foreseen initially – a clear indication of how much fun it was for both visitors and staff.
The Girls' Day is an initiative throughout Germany to encourage girls to learn more about occupational areas that are still male dominated and that girls consider only seldom when it comes to choosing a career path. In 2016, some 100 000 girls from 10 to 18 took part in the programme offered by 9500 institutions and groups throughout Germany.