Girls’Day 2019 record: More than 50 girls explore research and technology at FAIR and GSI


A total of 57 girls from grades 5 through 9 had the opportunity to find out about the work at GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung and the accelerator facility FAIR, currently under construction, in Darmstadt on Thursday, 28 March 2019. They took advantage of the nation-wide Girls’Day to gain an insight into the many activities that are pursued at an international research institution, especially in professions where women have seldom been represented so far. With this number, the organizers broke the previous record of participants.

At the beginning of Girls' Day, the participants were welcomed by Dorothee Sommer, Head of Human Resources. "We strive for equality in all areas of our work," explained Sommer. "Equality begins in childhood, where stereotypes can and should be broken early. We strive to inspire the girls to be enthusiastic about research and technology and motivate them to consider a career choice in this area. We would like to see some of them return to us as employees after training or studies."

Following a tour of the particle accelerator and experiment facilities on the research campus, the girls could gain practical experiences in various technical and scientific working areas at workshops, technical laboratories, and research departments. Many departments had prepared for the girls’ visit by creating a special program, and they provided plenty of support for their young visitors. For example, the girls could try metal work in the mechanical workshops, soldered electronics and or produce material samples, so-called targets, for the irradiation at the accelerator. One of the groups was also given a tour of the construction site of the future FAIR particle accelerator, which will be unequaled anywhere else in the world.

At the end of the day, the girls could look back on an exciting experience during which they had achieved many practical results. All groups presented their results in a large plenum discussion. “We built an instrument to measure temperature. It measures in degree Celsius and in Kelvin,” explained one of the participants. “In this room we have 25 degrees Celsius, that equals 298 Kelvin.” Other teams had produced metallic discs, made a magnet float with liquid nitrogen, controlled bikes for their safety equipment or soldered electronic components. One group analyzed LEDs for their properties, another produced samples made of plaster and x-rayed them.

“We can rely on our enthusiastic employees who live and love their research work. They also pass this enthusiasm on to the girls on Girls' Day,” said organizer Carola Pomplun from the PR department, who is also a physicist. “The demand for participation in our institute is very high. Thanks to the great support of my colleagues, we were able to welcome more girls this year than ever before. Our goal is to inspire them to a career in technology and science."

Girls’Day is a day of action all over Germany. On this day, businesses, universities, and other institutions all over Germany open their doors to schoolgirls from grade 5 and above. The girls learn about courses of study and trained professions in the areas of IT, the skilled trades, the natural sciences, and technology — areas in which women have rarely been employed in the past. (cp)

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