Science Week (or should that be Leo Enright Week?) tends to bring out the cynic in me.
For a full week we get bombarded with media-bytes about how great Science is, how much fun it is, and how the drop in the number of students taking up Science is nothing short of a national tragedy.
It fact let’s call a spade a spade here; students who are capable of doing Science but who instead choose a more glamorous career (in business!) are just downright selfish and unpatriotic.
But Science IS boring, – at least the way it’s presented in textbooks. And it is bloody hard. And no amount of exploding-custard tricks is going to change that.
I’ve no doubt students are delighted to be going to all these demonstration lectures – I would be too if it was going to get me off double Irish followed by Maths and Religion.
But has there been any research which shows that these lectures are actually leading to the desired outcome – and what is the desired outcome? Who gets to check? Who gets to decide whether too much (or too little) money is being spend on this?
And is it fair to portray only the fun side of Science when all around us are examples of Science gone wrong? We emphasise that it is Science which gives us our high standard of living, but when it comes to the negative applications of Science (military arms, etc.) we simply wash our hands of this and declare that this isn’t Science – it’s Technology.
And we hope nobody asks any awkward questions in these shows; why would they – it’s not like any of these more important issues get covered in their Science Classes in school – is it?
Science Week Ireland 11 to 18 November. Coming soon to a college near you.