Creating role models to inspire tomorrow’s scientists: A.M.E Zion Girls’ Senior High School Celebrates International Day of Women and Girls in Science

Students from A.M.E Zion SHS and University of Education Winneba gather in a classroom, ready to learn how to make low-cost and no-cost science experiments

February 11 marks International Day of Women and Girls in Science (IDWGIS), a significant occasion recognized by the United Nations to highlight the importance of gender equality in the field of science. This annual observance serves as an opportunity to celebrate the contributions of women in science and to encourage young girls to explore opportunities in STEM fields. This year’s theme, “Women and Girls in Science Leadership – a New Era for Sustainability,” emphasizes the significant role of female representation in driving sustainable development through science.

To mark IDWGIS, Transforming Teaching, Education, and Learning (T-TEL) collaborated with the French Ambassador for Europe’s two largest science teaching networks – Science on Stage and Scientix – Michael Gregory to share hands-on science with teachers across senior high schools. Michael supports teachers and learners to conduct low-cost science experiments to make science lessons engaging, exciting, and effective.

He was supported by Mr. Emmanuel Annan, Coordinator for the Resource Centre at Accra College of Education. They visited A.M.E Zion Girls’ Senior High School to spend some time teaching Form 3 female students how to perform Michael’s newest show “Particle Detectives” (, which he developed for CERN – the European Organization for Particle Physics.

Wednesday started with Michael performing Particle Detectives for an audience of approximately 25 Form 3 students, 5 teachers and 13 student teachers from nearby University of Education, Winneba.  Following the performance, students were divided into groups to specialise in one of the experiments which they would perform the next day to basic school learners.  The rest of the day was spent testing out the experiments, advancing their understanding, and practicing to be ready for their performances the next day.

Michael Gregory conducting science experiments at A.M.E Zion Girls SHS

Thursday started with the 25 Form 3 students performing for an audience of over 50 Form 3 students.  After a brief debrief, Michael, Emmanuel and the students headed to the A.M.E Zion Basic School where they had another performance for over 50 Primary 6 students.

The following science experiments were done:

1 – Paper Race

2 – Bernoulli Effect

3 – Air Vortex

4 – Coloured Fluorescence

5 – Hoop Glider

Experiment 1: Paper Race


  1. Hold a book and the paper at the same height and ask the students to predict which will fall fastest. Drop both to show that the book will fall fastest.
  2. Point out that both are made of paper and suggest they should fall at the same rate. Propose repeating the experiment, removing air resistance for the paper. Which will fall faster now?
  3. Place the paper on top of the book and drop both together. They should remain together, falling at the same rate.
  4. The paper can fall even faster than the book if it experiences less air resistance. Hold the paper a centimeter or two above the book, drop both at the same time, and the paper should catch up to the book during the fall.

Experiment 2: Bernoulli Circus


A – Bernoulli Effect with Paper

  1. Hold both pages vertically in front of your mouth. Tell the audience you will blow between the pages and ask them to predict whether they will move further apart, closer together, or not move.
  2. When you blow between the pages, they should move together due to the Bernoulli Effect – moving air will have lower pressure than still air, and so the higher atmospheric pressure outside of the pages will push the paper into the lower-pressure moving air in between.

B – Coanda Effect with Balloon

  1. Inflate a balloon to roughly 5 cm diameter and tie the end.
  2. Hold the straw nearly vertical and blow into it to float the balloon above the straw.
  3. The balloon should be able to float several cm above the straw and will often wobble back and forth around the centre of the stream of air.

Experiment 3: Air Vortex


  1.  Create a homemade vortex cannon from a cardbox box by cutting a hole in one end, then use the box to send invisible vortices of air across the room.
  2. Fixed target – using paper, the vortex can be detected through its interaction with fixed target.  Note – interacting with a fixed target can tell us about the position and energy of the target, but gives no information of the
  3. Tracking – have volunteers blow as many bubbles as possible.  Send vortices through the bubbles – it should be possible to see the path of the vortex from its low-energy interaction with the bubbles which do not significantly affect its trajectory.

Experiment 4: Coloured Florescence


  1. Ask a few volunteers to make drawings using fluorescent highlighters, instructing one to use only a yellow highlighter.
  2. Make sure the room is dark and shine a bright red light on the drawing with yellow only.  The drawing should not appear, because the yellow highlighter only contains a phosphor, but no pigment, so will not interact with red light. The drawing should appear as a blank page.
  3. Turn on the blue light and the yellow highlighter appears bright yellow.
  4. Fluorescence is the re-emission of light of a lower energy colour. Therefore the fluoresced light must have less energy than the incident light. So blue light has more energy than yellow, which has more energy than red.
  5. Observe that yellow will fluoresce weakly under green light (it also blends in with green). This shows that yellow also has less energy than green light.
  6. Next, show the multi-coloured drawings under red, blue and green light, to fit the remaining colours in the spectrum.

Experiment 5: Hoop Glider


  1. Cut two strips of paper, roughly 2 cm wide, one 20 cm long and the other 30 cm long.
  2. Bend each strip to make a loop and tape the loop closed.
  3. Tape the loops to each end of a drinking straw – it is now ready to fly!
  4. Gently throw the hoop glider – it should smoothly glide through the air.
  5. If time and interest permit, this can be turned into an investigation changing variables like diameter of hoop, width of paper, length of straw, etc.

Box text on experiments is based on the Particle Detectives experiment guide, published by CERN here:

The approach of training SHS students to conduct the experiments at the basic school was to offer the young learners relatable role models from their immediate surroundings and also facilitate effective communication between the SHS students and their primary school counterparts. The SHS students were able to communicate effectively with the primary school students, even using the local language where necessary.

A.M.E Zion Girls students conducting science experiment in a basic school

“This was a really special event for me – I’ve performed experiments at countless schools, but this event combined several ideas I’ve been working on for years.  I’ve had various science clubs based on the model of students teaching students, and even inspired many new science clubs here in Ghana, notably through my YES! International network. Using science performance to make cutting-edge research more accessible was a key part of the PERFORM project I worked on as a UNESCO volunteer in 2019” said Michael Gregory.

“As you may have noticed, young kids (and even some adults) can have a very hard time understanding foreign accents here in Ghana.  Teaching older students to perform a science show for younger students provides an innovative way for my ideas to be shared with the younger ones in a more accessible and relatable way.

Targeting girls was the last piece of the puzzle to come into place.  The idea started when I was speaking to people at the International Particle Physics Outreach Group.  They run a series of Masterclasses, and the past couple years have started off their season with girls-only masterclasses, led by female scientists, around the International Day of Girls and Women in Science.  At first glance, it seems like a great idea, but the more people I talked to, the more I learned about places where this actually compounds the problem of underrepresentation of females in subsequent masterclasses, because both scientists and students who have already completed the girls’ masterclass are less likely to attend the mixed classes covering the same material later on.  I sought to create an alternative – instead of simply segregating and running the same program, creating something different, which can ideally increase, rather than decrease, girls’ interest in participating in other programing.  Teaching them to perform Particle Detectives seems to do just the trick!”

Students from A.M.E Zion Girls SHS and their teachers pose for a photo with Michael Gregory and Emmanuel Annan after the science experiment sessions