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RTD info logoMagazine on European Research N° 37 - May 2003    
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 TABLE OF CONTENTS
 EDITORIAL
 Ambitions for research
 Agriculture and the life sciences: food for thought
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 An anthropologist takes stock
 The Museu de la Cičncia in Barcelona
 The digital cosmos
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LETTERS Printable version


Bullet Science for all…



After looking around the Europa site and, more particularly, the section on research, my attention was caught by a key sentence: 'Europe must invest more in science' (…) Indeed, over the past few years and for various reasons, we have seen young people turning their backs on science, to such a degree that some universities have had to reduce the number of lecturers due to the lack of students. Aware of this worrying trend, some scientific institutions are proposing competitions for primary and secondary school pupils as a means of attracting young people back to science. These competitions are an effective tool in stimulating or sustaining an interest in science among young people. However, not all teachers are experts and they have little scope when the subjects are usually physics and the life sciences.

Many teachers of literary subjects would like to make their contribution to popularisation by adopting a different approach to the scientific fields they know and like, thereby increasing the chances of restoring science to favour among young people, but … they are not invited to do so. Yet, the more people are involved and the more varied the methods used, the greater the chances of attracting young people to science. Limiting access to these competitions to the experts is, in my opinion, a serious mistake, because many teachers of foreign languages, of French and of philosophy touch upon the sciences in their work, approaching them in different ways, and using different and sometimes very original methods.

By way of example, science fiction is a fantastic point of departure for developing an interest in science in the same way as some researchers draw inspiration from it to launch scientific or space missions. The study of science fiction works alongside popular scientific texts, culminating in writing a science fiction essay in co-operation with the experts, is a way of stimulating the interest of pupils in the sciences (…).

If Europe is to invest more in the sciences, there must be a strong demand on the part of young people. To achieve that it is essential for those who set challenges for schools to facilitate access to all.

Maryse Sari
Head of Languages - Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Ingénieurs en Construction Aéronautique et spatiale - Toulouse (France)
Maryse.Sari@ensica.fr

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