My name is Eva and I have been the chair of the European Physical Society (EPS) Young Minds (YM) project since last July. In 2010 I finished a degree in Computer Engineering and 3 years later I joined the Optics and Photonics Research Group of Castellón in Spain (GROC). Now I am doing my PhD at the University Jaume I in Castellón, and sometimes I wonder how a computer engineer can be the chair of a Committee engaging physics students in outreach. Here is a possible answer.
If I had to describe a child with only one word, I would choose curiosity. From the moment we are born, we start discovering a new world, full of smells, sounds, textures and, what is more, full of light. When we learn to speak, we start wondering about the world around us. Everything we learn amazes us, but then our educational systems, deeply based on memorisation, smash the curiosity inside us. As we get older, society itself also pushes us to live in a world of worries, hindering our passion for knowledge.
After five years studying at university and just at the beginning of a worldwide economic crisis, my curiosity was going to rapidly decrease and worries about getting a job were going to occupy its place. But Physics and the Young Minds project were like a wide-open window to me. With some other PhD students at the University of Castellón, we created a YM section and EPS, together with other international societies, gave us the support we needed to invest in educational material and organise outreach activities for kids, teenagers and even teachers.
It only took me a few weeks to fall in love with the project because it raised my curiosity to high levels. What I loved the most was the fact that with our experiments we were able to spark interest in knowledge. Physicists are the most curious people I have ever met, so what could be better than spread physics everywhere to inspire curiosity among people of all ages. Moreover, I think that you do not need to be a physicist to appreciate physics and you do not need to be young to keep your curiosity growing. Furthermore, I think that curiosity encourages learning, and knowledge gives you freedom.
We should never lose the curiosity we have when we are born. I consider myself a curious person, and sometimes, I still act like a child, amazed by the wonders of nature in the world that surrounds us. And this led me to open this new window that brought me to where I am.
Now, while sitting in a London airport, putting the final touches to this editorial, the child beside me asks his mother: “why can planes and birds fly and I can’t?” These are the questions we should all keep asking and answering forever, and the YM project has done this for me. For that reason, I will do my best to help the project to continue to grow, and to keep my mind young forever.
Eva Salvador Balaguer
Chair of EPS YM project, PhD student at the University Jaume I (Castellón)