It is said that the future of the world’s strength in science and technology depends on the interest and proficiency of youth and the general public in science. As a result, science engagement has arrived to become an essential and unavoidable manner in which scientists collaborate with teachers to stimulate public knowledge of and excitement around scientific disciplines. Such initiatives, when introduced into the classroom, are believed to provide better science content while allowing students to soak in and imbibe an inquiry-based learning process in a fun way.
This is also the goal of Global Young Academies (GYA’s) Young Scientist Ambassador Program (YSAP), which was very active during the last year 2015, carrying out four successful activities.
The first activity took place in the Netherlands in April 2015. The GYA already reported in a separate post about this event. The second half of 2015 saw three activities in Austria, Germany and Mauritius.
17-18 September 2015 – Expedition Mundus in Austria
An opportunity to promote science, science education and inspire future young scientists through the Expedition Mundus game came on 17 – 18 September 2015 at the Alpen-Adria University in Klagenfurt, Austria. The university hosted the first International Conference on Science, Research and Popular Culture. GYA member Thomas Edison dela Cruz from the Philippines presented a paper entitled “The Mystery of the Missing Lichen – Promoting Science to Kids through Comics” during the session on Cartoons, Comics Strips and Science Communication. At the end of the very successful conference, about 15 delegates participated in a one-hour special session on the Expedition Mundus game. This international conference was an ideal venue to play the Expedition Mundus game as participants came from different scientific backgrounds, cultures and countries. The scientists formed groups of three or four people and cooperatively tried to learn the language, the culture, and the science of the Mundians from the Planet Mundus as they answered some game related questions. At the end of the game, Thomas Edison dela Cruz received many positive feedback from the participants, who enjoyed playing the game. A similar activity can therefore be planned for future conference participations, in order to continue to promote the Expedition Mundus game in the hope that it will find its way to younger students and continuously inspire them to pursue a career in science.
24 September 2015 – “Science Day” at Libellenschule in Germany
On 24 September 2015, GYA Executive Committee (EC) member Ghada Bassioni from Egypt visited the Libellenschule in Dortmund, Germany for a YSAP activity, the “science day”. About 20 pupils of the fourth grade (about 10 year old children) attended the activity. The “science day” consisted of three chemistry experiments which were: first on the topic of Solubility and Crystallization; second Microscopic Investigation; third Toxicity in the three aggregation states: gas, liquid and solid. The pupils were allowed to see the some samples of sand, quartz and glass under the microscope before the chemical reaction of crystallization started. They answered many simple scientific questions in a dynamic and very interactive lecture. The term “toxic” was discussed in relation to whether all substances can be toxic at some point. An example of a toxic gas was “Radon” as a main cause for the curse of the pharaoh. That topic crowned the day and was a clear highlight for further discussions in the school break afterwards. For Ghada Bassioni, it was in a way a “come-back” to show the attending pupils that “here at your school is, where my career has started”. This should inspire them to continue on their studies. She believes that this would motivate them further to work harder at school and to probably go into science. Seeing an Egyptian professor would also add to the acceptance and tolerance of foreign pupils at school.
24 November 2015 – Supporting the Biology curriculum in Mauritius
Together with the enthusiastic team of the University of Mauritius’ students, they visited the International School of Mauritius, Le Bocage, where they explored science with around 70 high school students (aged between 11-12 years). Alexander Kagansky and Vidushi Neergheen-Bhujun used three different activities designed to directly support the science curriculum taught in the grades visited. The activities included building a cell model, exhibiting a chromosome dance to show the segregation of chromosomes during cell division, and exploring endemic flora and fauna of Mauritius using microscopes. Such activities provided students with the genuine connection to the discipline of Biology, exploratory team building, and encouragement to pursue with otherwise complicated science subjects. One of the lessons learnt from the event is that science outreach activities have to be encouraged and fostered. Moreover, teacher- scientist partnerships should be enhanced to build on a more inquiry-based culture in classrooms.