How do we encourage children to value science?

| August 10, 2012

In spite of recent progress fewer girls pursue careers in science than their male counterparts, effectively shutting the door on a growing jobs market crying out for engineers and computer scientists. Lynne Selwood says all Australian children need to be encouraged to become scientists.

The Royal Society of Victoria has been dedicated to promoting science for the benefit of the community for the last 158 years. Never before have we been so concerned about the need to encourage children to become scientists.

The Chief Scientist of Australia, Professor Ian Chubb AC issued his report on the “Health of Australian Science” in May. He made it very clear that “the future prosperity of Australia is dependent on having a strong supply of graduates in the right areas coming through the education system”.  Provision of crucial scientific graduates needs support.

In response, the Royal Society of Victoria has decided to establish a three year program, called “Science and my world” that is directed towards primary school age children, their parents and teachers.

We have invited Professor Chubb AC to launch the program at a lunch event to be held in Melbourne at “Morgan’s at 401 (Collins St)” on Thursday 30 August. It will cap off all the terrific activities held around National Science Week in Victoria.

Interested and supportive people are invited to join with us at this event and help create an interactive programme to:

  • Increase early childhood awareness of science, through the “Science and my world” programme, including local community science activities and hands-on experiences for young school students;
  • Engage these students in imaginative, educational activities that demonstrate the practical value of the modern-day science that is all around them; and,
  • Stimulate interest in scientific ways of thinking and research. 

The program will:

  • Support school based science events in Victorian communities;
  • Develop on-line science materials to ignite the enthusiasm of children based on science relevant to their community through the “Science and my world” programme, covering subjects such as: “Physical forces and my world” e.g. gravity, nuclear forces, electromagnetic forces; “Science and my home ” eg. cooking, household appliances, electricity, wifi;  “Biodiversity and my world” eg. soil organisms, fungi, marine organisms; and
  • Develop on-line science materials for primary teachers to use to follow-up the community science events.

We invite you to support this urgent education project so that we make sure Australia has the expertise we need to ensure our prosperity as a nation.

Lynne Selwood is the President of the Royal Society of Victoria, an organisation which has been promoting science since 1854. Prof Selwood had postdoctoral positions at the University of NSW (1967-1970) and the University of London (1972-1974), where she developed a lifetime interest in the mechanisms of early development. In 2000, she moved to a Professorial position at the University of Melbourne and has worked there ever since working on marsupial early lineage allocation and evolution, marsupial conservation using captive breeding and reproductive technology, and fertility control, vaccine development and marsupial models for study of human diseases. She has published more than 100 scientific papers and has worked on several government advisory bodies including the Ministerial Research Advisory Committee, Conservation Forests and Lands, the Recovery Plan Committee for the mountain pigmy possum, DSE and the Infertility Treatment Authority. She has been on the council of several scientific societies including terms as President of the Victorian Cell Biology Society, Australian Mammal Society and the Royal Society of Victoria and as Secretary of the International Federation of Mammalogists. To support the Biology Olympiads, she established the biology Olympiads Bursaries and the national register of Biologists. She has been made a Distinguished Visiting Scholar, Christ’s College Cambridge and an Honorary Life Member, Australian Mammal Society.