No one is born to a vocation, but many find their calling at an early age. Albert Einstein’s fascination with science began when he was given his first compass as a child and he puzzled over why the needle always pointed in the same direction. Young Einstein’s passion for physics and mathematics were destined to alter our view of the Universe and catapult him to international fame.
A host of other legendary European scientists have transformed the way we see and interact with the world: Marie Curie’s pioneering work on radium, Alexander Fleming’s discovery of penicillin, and Alan Turing’s invention of the computing machine.
Europe has seen the birth of scientific discoveries and inventions that have profoundly influenced modern society. The computer, the motorcar, radio, the World Wide Web, television and cinema all started life here. Innovation has been and will continue to be key to Europe’s success.
Today, the continent is home to some of the world’s top research facilities and its education system is among the best. European schools and universities – which prize creativity, curiosity and independent thinking – continue to produce the most significant number of science graduates.
But science does not stand still: to maintain Europe’s competitiveness in the cutting-edge disciplines that will shape our future, successive generations of scientists and researchers are needed.
“Supporting Europe's youngest scientists is essential to ensure the future of the research community,” said European Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin, “and more must be done to create the conditions to encourage more young people to take up careers in science and become tomorrow’s science professionals.”
Curious minds Driven by their natural curiosity, young children enjoy science but this interest appears to wear off, according to a recent EU survey entitled ’Science in School and the Future of Scientific Culture’.
The report’s findings underscore the need to revamp science education to better meet the expectations and needs of today’s young people. Science studies must be made more stimulating and relevant to the modern world in which we live.