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May 2013

Welcome to the blog, you can read all about the latest news for the sections and take a look in our archive. Scroll through the latest posts below, or select a section from the dropdown.

By Toby Shannon, Science in Society Officer at the British Science Association

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Popular culture has a complicated relationship with the idea of robotics – for each lovable character like Disney’s Wall-E and Star Wars’ R2-D2, there’s a Terminator ready to wreak havoc. Why do some robots provoke a positive reaction and others don’t? And what does this mean for the future of robotics in society?

The uncanny valley

One explanation for this reaction to a robot’s appearance is the uncanny valley theory – a graph that plots a robot’s likeness to a human against how comfortable people are with it; developed by Japanese robotics professor Masahiro Mori.

Sree Kadalayil is a Belfast-based 2D character animator. After completing his Masters in Animation from Norwich in 2005, he has been working in the UK as a freelance animator/designer on projects such as James May’s Things You Need to Know Series 2, Yahoo! Finance and 360 Production’s YouTube channel “Head Squeeze”.

by Dr Penny Fidler and Dr Michaela Livingstone, from the UK Association for Science and Discovery Centres in response to the question posed in an earlier British Science Association blog post, when Professor Louise Archer asked 'What influences participation in science and mathematics?"

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A response from the ASDC

We were delighted to see the latest evidence coming from the Targeted Initiative on Science and Mathematics (TISME), particularly those dealing with science aspirations and careers.

The key findings chime with much of the work and goals of UK Science and Discovery Centres and science museums, as well as our colleagues working in informal science learning worldwide.

by Mythiri Sutharson

Mythiri is a year ten pupil from Hertfordshire, who has completed her Bronze CREST Award. She is a member of the CREST Youth Panel, a select group of Award holders who provide advice and guidance to the scheme and its partners, giving a voice to young people in the development of the scheme. Here, she gives her perspective on the unexpected benefits of doing a CREST award.

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How it began

It was a Tuesday lunchtime – the day I first heard about CREST.  I was sitting in one of the Chemistry labs, listening to my teachers explaining about CREST. It fascinated me; but it still hadn’t really dawned on me what it was all about.

But by the following week I found my friend and I already starting to put together project ideas. We were really excited by this scheme, but it was deciding what project to choose. So we continued planning, unaware of the opportunities that CREST would bring.                                                  

You would not believe the crazy ideas that jumped in and out of our heads... “Nails!” (How were we going to test that?), “Chocolate?” (We would have eaten it anyway), “Fruit?” (Too healthy). We had too many ideas jumping around in our heads, but we were determined to find the right one, and we thought the idea that stood out the most was definitely hairspray so we began planning.

By Professor Louise Archer, from the Centre for Public Policy Research at the Department of Education and Professional Studies at King's College London and the author of the TISME report, “What influences participation in science and mathematics?

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‘Luna’, a friendly, thoughtful teenage girl, has always found science interesting and has done well in the subject. Throughout primary school she aspired to a career in science. But now, aged 14, she describes herself as more ‘arty’ and creative and feels that she is not clever enough to study science further.

Like many of her peers, Luna illustrates some of the burning issues facing science educators. Namely, what influences participation in science and maths? And how might we encourage more young people to study science and mathematics at A level and beyond? Our new report tries to answer these questions.