“The pursuit of truth and beauty is a sphere of activity in which we are permitted to remain children all our lives.” – Albert Einstein
Science Buzz is based on the natural curiosity of young people for how things work. It seeks to foster their SENSE OF WONDER by encouraging them to carry out – and to demonstrate – simple experiments where there is often a surprise in the outcome.
A first step was to practice doing lots of simple experiments in a school laboratory. A second was to take Science Buzz out to younger audiences in Primary school classrooms and invite those children to discover that science is cool. Many of them knew that already.
Science Buzz began in our school in 2009 as an activity in which Transition Year students, aged about 15 years, learned to carry out about 25 simple science experiments – different from those in the textbooks. Some of the experiments have a surprising outcome to give people a smile and encourage more curiosity.
The second step was made possible by teachers in a number of Primary schools – especially St. Fiachra’s Senior National School in Beaumont, Dublin. They very kindly invited groups of our Transition Year students to visit their school on dozens of occasions.
Science Buzz was inspired by other projects such as The European Space Agency’s SCIENCE ON STAGE in which groups of Irish Science teachers have participated since 2002. Its activities also overlap with PHYSICS BUSKING which is organised by the INSTITUTE OF PHYSICS in Ireland and presents entertaining experiments to families and the general public at many events like the St. Patrick’s Festival, and in various venues including Grafton Street, Trinity College, Merrion Square, the Phoenix Park and at the Ploughing Championships.
What have the students done? :
The groups of Transition Year (TY) students who work on Science Buzz have, over the years, presented one hour shows to around 2,000 delighted and enthusiastic primary school pupils and their very dedicated teachers.
The primary school children have those natural gifts of curiosity, wonder and spontaneity – so they react with delight and excitement every time. At the same time the TY students enjoy feedback and affirmation from their young audience. Science Buzz develops very useful “soft skills” in participants, giving them valuable transferable skills in teamwork, public speaking and presentations – all of which will enhance their CVs. Many TY students have reported, when we evaluate the process afterwards, that they had been a bit nervous in front of an audience of over 150 but found it less daunting, more satisfying and more fun than they expected. This significantly boosts their confidence.
We are particularly grateful that the management, teachers and children of St. Fiachra’s Senior National School in Beaumont have been so wonderfully welcoming of Science Buzz. Indeed some of the Primary pupils have added greatly to Science Buzz events by presenting their own well-rehearsed science experiments – even reading from their own prepared notes and using a public address system. Also the pupils can teach the experiments to members of their own families and further spread the message that Science is cool.
Our hopes for the future :
Fun, surprise, wonder, outreach and society.
1. That students of all ages who take part in Science Buzz – (and similar outreach activities such as Physics Busking) will progress from the enjoyment of simple experiments with an element of surprise – to deepen their own sense of wonder at the astonishing universe we are privileged to inhabit.
2. That by presenting science to various audiences more young people will be encouraged to study science, to enjoy science and become more scientifically literate.
3. That in the long term many such science outreach activities will encourage a scientifically literate public to make informed choices about the future. This is closely related to the ancient value of stewardship of Nature and to the contemporary value of our responsibility for the planet. [ Good examples are found in the well-known discussion between Barak Obama and Sir David Attenborough. Other powerful voices defending the planet are the Intergovernmental Panel on climate change and individuals including Vandana Shiva, Pope Francis, Al Gore, Rachel Carson, Thomas Berry and EF Schumacher.
4. That the work of Science Buzz – if it succeeds in serving the community outside the school – will be fully consistent with the Mission Statement of Belvedere College SJ. This work should be a small part of the greater task of fostering “. . . persons for others in leadership and example in the pursuit of a just world.”
5. That being a part of the worldwide enterprise of Jesuit Education we may be inspired by the extraordinary heritage of Jesuit Scientists throughout the ages.
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