Editorial: Love of science should start in childhood

Everything involves science.

When you cook your breakfast in the morning, you have science to thank for everything from the way your eggs were farmed before storing them in the fridge, to how your electric stove heats up. The way your car turns on when you go to work? That’s science. Checking the day’s temperature on your phone? Well, that uses the science of meteorology and mobile technology there.

Despite it being a subject that literally is responsible for us being able to live our lives, there has been a declining interest in all things related to science over recent years.

We no longer have a single minister dedicated to science in the federal government. In NSW, fewer than 50 per cent of Year 12 students study a science subject.

But in this year’s budget there was an investment of $2.4billion into Australia’s science and technology capabilities – which included a move to establish an Australian space agency – showing the potential for jobs in the sector. 

So what are ways we can encourage more people to become involved in the world of science?

National Science Week certainly helps. The annual celebration of science and technology runs from August 11-19 and attracts thousands of people to various science events across the nation.

But perhaps an interest in science should be fostered and nurtured early on in life.

A research paper by an Associate Professor of Science Education at the Ohio State University lists several reasons to start teaching science in the early childhood period.

For instance, science experiences that were engaging allow for the development of scientific thinking, and could provide a solid foundation for the development of scientific concepts children would encounter in their academic lives.

Schools in NSW are bringing the focus on to science through STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics. 

In the Bega Valley, it is not just teachers and parents who are taking on the responsibility for encouraging a love of science in children. Not-for-profit the Sapphire Foundation provides scholarships for secondary students with outstanding abilities in science, also giving grants to community science-related programs and projects. 

Get inspired by science all this week at the Bega Civic Centre with a packed program of hands-on activities. Visit www.scienceweek.net.au for details.

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