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25/11/2014

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Blog

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.

Victoria Raynor is a year 4 teacher and STEM lead at Stephenson Memorial Primary School in North Tyneside. She tweets the STEM club activities from @raynor_vicky & @SMemorial

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STEM: a word so familiar now, that it is hard to believe that two years ago it had very little meaning to me. It all seemed to change in an instant when I attended an inspirational North Tyneside Learning Trust STEM conference in November 2011.

Year 6 students amazed that they have made their own glue!

The underlying message was clear; we need to act immediately to create a generation of children that have the skills and qualifications necessary for a STEM career. The conference certainly had a significant impact on me and the senior management team at my school, but I didn’t realise the changes that would occur as a consequence.

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.

By Sue Hordijenko, Director of Programmes at the British Science Association and Louise Ogden, Web Editor at the British Science Association

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We have just evaluated the first ten months of Sciencewise-ERC – the expert resource centre that helps policy makers to understand and use public dialogue to inspire, inform and improve policy decisions around science and technology.

Sciencewise helps to set up and run sessions with members of the public, known as public dialogues, to discuss with them everything from their views on a particular area of scientific research, to their thoughts on a new or upcoming piece of policy, or to determine how informed they are on a topic.

Karen FolkesBy Karen Folkes, Chair of the 'Public Attitudes to Science' Steering Group and Deputy Head of Science and Society, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

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What do the UK public think about science? Are they interested in science? Do they value it? Do they want to hear more about it? Do they have any concerns about scientific developments and new technologies?

These are just some of the questions explored in Public Attitudes to Science – a series of studies which has been going since 2000 and is now entering its fifth iteration. The data, collected from both surveys and qualitative research, has been used by many different organisations to help measure the impact of their scientific, engineering and educational programmes.

by Katherine Mathieson, Director of Education at the British Science Association

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Last week, I went to a screening of a new social action film called GirlRising produced by Holly Gordon as part of the 10x10 campaign to improve the education of girls. The film depicted the stories of 10 girls and young women from around the world, interspersed with facts about the positive effects that educating girls can have in developing countries. For example, the World Bank reports that each additional year of education can increase a girl’s future earnings by at least 10%.  Yet around 66 million girls are currently not enrolled in education (UNESCO 2012).

Brigitte Nerlich is Professor of Science, Language, and Society at the Institute for Science and Society at the University of Nottingham. She will be speaking at the Science Communication Conference in May in the session on 'bridging theory and practice'.

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There have been two incidents recently that have brought to the fore some tensions between the theory and practice of science communication. One incident was the so-called Cox/Ince debate and the other was what I shall refer to as the Glaser/Cox incident.

Cox/Ince

The Cox/Ince debate began when Brian Cox, physicist and science communicator, and Robin Ince, comedian and science communicator, published an article in New Statesman on 18 December last year, entitled ‘Politicians must not elevate mere opinion over science’ (for an overview of the debate that followed, see this blog by Peter Broks and this blog by myself, focusing on science communication). One follow-up blog post by ‘Gavin’ in particular was interesting, as it encapsulated my general impression of what was going on. The blogger wrote:

Brian Cox

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