And briefly…

Science or fiction?

Dullais Didzis, scholar and hero of a Latvian TV programme Dullais Didzis, scholar and hero of a Latvian TV programme
© Latvian Television

Can a human being mutate into an "X-man"? Could we unleash a tornado, as in the film Storm, or emit laser beams, as in Cyclops? The cult images of the virtual world inspire children to ask questions of this kind. Asking them in these terms can thus be an effective way of getting young people interested in science and stimulating them to learn more. This is the method used by ‘Cinema and Science’ (CISCI). Its promoters begin with an observation: young peoples' favourite media are film and the Internet. Which box-office hits come to mind? Perhaps films, mostly American, which use special effects in a science-fiction universe? Well then, let's use them to interest young people in science.

The project's multilingual site (EN, DE, IT, CZ, SI, EE, LV) was launched in November 2006. An original educational resource, it offers clips from mass-distribution films and documentaries that illustrate scientific concepts in various disciplines (physics, biology, chemistry, mathematics). Some examples: Could a person's face change after being bitten by another species (genetics via Spiderman)? Is the energy of the human body able to drive machines (The Matrix – electrochemistry)? Would it be possible for a comet to cause a mega-tsunami that would destroy the city of New York (Deep Impact – astronomy and astrophysics)? But CISCI is not only virtual. A few months from now, a thousand educators and young people will participate in projections/debates based on films or TV series, organised by the project partners.

Global youth

Malta Malta

Created in 1987, Milset, the International Movement for Leisure in Science and Technology, is a non-governmental youth organisation. Subdivided into regional secretariats (by continent), its mission is to be a "member of civil planetary society" and its objective is to develop scientific culture by means of targeted actions with young people, teachers and educators. Various types of meetings (science expos, summer university courses, study trips, training workshops, etc.) are held around the world. This movement has already made it possible for tens of thousands of young people from all backgrounds to meet, share their experiences and develop projects together. Idealistic (Baden Powell is not far off); it promotes the values of sustainable development, international cooperation, citizenship, peace and the sharing of knowledge. Its 11th International Sciences Expo will be held in Dublin in July 2007.

The Technopolis magic

© Technopolis, Centre flamand des sciences

Standing in the middle of a soap bubble, stretching out on a bed of nails and feeling no pain, riding a bike on a cable suspended 5 metres in the air...It seems as if everything is possible at the Technopolis centre in Mechelen (BE). Visitors can choose from among 260 interactive and very sensory exhibits, thematic journeys that enable everyone to test their performance (physical, technical, intellectual, etc.), and exhibitions on topics such as health and happiness (Live life), which are always experienced through action (listening to one's heart, riding in a wheelchair, etc.) Seniors are welcome and will become experts in ICT (information and communications technologies) by discovering all the possibilities of a video recorder or a mobile phone. Everyone can ride the TechnoVelo, a bike which reacts to thought, accelerating or slowing down as it responds to sensors placed under its user’s feet... Astonishing? Yes, and this is the objective of this discovery centre: to welcome families. Technopolis also offers activities aimed at schools with exhibits and activities adapted to various ages.

Exemplary Kvarkadabra…

Why do short-sighted people see better when they squint? How does a microwave oven work? What is the twins paradox in relativity theory? The answer to these questions and to hundreds of others can be found in the amazing on-line journal known as Kvarkadabra, a jewel of scientific popularisation from Slovenia. Fuelled by around 15 passionate young researchers (biophysicists working side by side with chemists, mathematicians and philosophers), this site offers an animated, high-quality forum, book reviews, a scientific glossary, a look at research news and much more, such as a wide-ranging series of one-on-one conferences. The Slovenian language is no barrier to the dissemination of ideas. Why not be inspired by Kvarkadabra, and experience a wonderful example of sharing science?