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Taking science education across the world

Our future depends on exploring all the frontiers of science, on innovative technologies based on these explorations and on the development of scientific literacy in all peoples through science education.

Science Week 2080?

I was invited into a school recently to present a science-themed assembly for Science Week. Afterwards the school would disperse to their classrooms (science labs for the day) and enjoy a wide range of science activities and experiments that the staff had put together.

For the assembly I took the theme of “let’s take a little look at the history of science and technology.” I began with the Ancient Greeks setting up their ideas about the universe, elements and strangely shaped stones, then moved on to Galileo, the alchemists and chemists and discovering what fossils really are, then moved forwards to the twentieth century.

I was born in the middle of it. I decided to show how a piece of technology (the product of scientific research) had changed during my life time. I chose the telephone because where I lived our telephones did not even have a dial. If you wanted to call someone up you lifted the receiver and a voice would say “number please”. As an eight year old I would say “Colne 238” (my dad’s shop) and the voice would say “and your number” and I would say “Colne 735” (our home number) and the telephone in the shop would begin to ring.

My Dads Shop

My Dad’s Shop in the 1940s – 50s

It was a few years before Colne telephone exchange became automated and we got a dial. I showed the children a telephone without and with a dial and moved onto the first mobile phones that I saw when I went to London to see my publishers. These phones were carried in a large shoulder bag and about the size of a brick with a long aerial that had to be pulled out to get a signal. I then presented a selection of mobile phones and ended with one my eldest granddaughter owns – it is inside a glove!

Telephones, then and now

Telephones, then and now

To change the perspective from the past to the future, I finished the assembly by saying “I can confidently say that I am the oldest person in this room and when the youngest person here is as old as I am, it won’t be 2020, 2030, 2040, 2050, 2060 or even 2070. It will be 2080 and what will science week be like in schools then?”

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