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Analysis and Comment (38)

What’s the use of this? What’s the use of this? Lab Science Career

Are we focusing too much on examining practical science?

Science evokes images of Bunsen burners, coloured liquids, vapours rising from flasks, white coats and safety goggles. But are we making too much of the rigid assessment of the practical parts of science…
We prefer experimenting on our food, rather than cooking it. We prefer experimenting on our food, rather than cooking it. Neil Munns/PA Archive

Girls are kept out of science jobs by unhelpful stereotypes

The number of girls taking A-level physics has remained stagnant for the past 20 years or more, and the UK has the lowest proportion of female engineers in the EU. Progress on gender equality in science…
GIFs can help show the effects of climate change. GIFs can help show the effects of climate change. Patrick Kelley

How GIFs are changing the way we talk science

The use of “GIFs” has exploded in recent years. They are used for news, views and entertainment but are most commonly seen as a light-hearted medium. Now scientists are beginning to see how GIFs can be…
How many R&D teams does it take to fix a lightbulb? How many R&D teams does it take to fix a lightbulb? ed_needs_a_bicycle

Business drops the baton in higher ed innovation

There is a tired old mantra that periodically echoes along the corridors of Whitehall. It goes something like: “The UK is great at science but poor at turning it into innovation”. Yet since the Conservative…
Kids need to know that curiosity didn’t kill the cat. Kids need to know that curiosity didn’t kill the cat. Julien Behal/PA

We cannot afford to get science education wrong

Science gives young people the tools to understand the world around us and the ability to engage with contemporary and future issues, such as medical advances and climate change. That is why science should…
Students learning the skills to ‘do’ science could be under threat. Students learning the skills to ‘do’ science could be under threat. Science image from www.shutterstock.com

Learning or doing? Science degrees need reform and students can help

Science is as much about knowing, as it is about having the skills to learn. But with time in the lab shrinking as universities try to tighten their budgets, students may be getting the opportunity to…
Young people are harbouring misconceptions about climate change. But what can be done about it? Young people are harbouring misconceptions about climate change. But what can be done about it? Thinking image www.shutterstock.com

What do young people really know about climate change?

The next generation will be the ones to feel the increasing effects of climate change. But how much do they really know about it? After all, it’s one thing to say: yes, I believe in climate change. But…
The right people are not in the room in reform talks. The right people are not in the room in reform talks. WahTee

A-level reforms need real input from science experts

The government is undertaking an ambitious programme to reform qualifications in schools, with significant changes being made to GCSEs and A-levels over the next few years. This, in theory, is a positive…
Studies suggest around 30% of people are “generally unengaged” with science. Studies suggest around 30% of people are “generally unengaged” with science. Suarez Leandro

Engaging the unengaged in science? Try a little harder

Like many Australians, you may have recoiled in horror or laughed heartily when the results of the Australian Academy of Science’s science literacy survey surfaced last month. You may have had a similar…
There’s a public appetite for more science … so how should it be sated? There’s a public appetite for more science … so how should it be sated? London Permaculture

And in science news … can we have more science news?

Why is science not delivered as part of our routine news bulletins in the same way as, say, business and sport? Enter a group from the University of Queensland, who yesterday posted an open letter to radio…
Understanding how the world works as a system is vital. Understanding how the world works as a system is vital. Rigmarole

Does science literacy matter? Yes, and here’s why

When the email notice for The Weekend Conversation landed on Saturday, I was intrigued and slightly startled by the opening teaser from the site’s Science + Technology editor, Paul Dalgarno. He got one…
“If we don’t evaluate our impact we risk becoming our own worst enemies.” “If we don’t evaluate our impact we risk becoming our own worst enemies.” mollybob

Ring the changes on science communication

Public concerns about issues such as wind farms and vaccines have led to a discussion about why some people have strong fears or adverse reactions, and why their perception of risk doesn’t align with those…
Children are getting their (mis)information about some scientific concepts from mass media sources. Children are getting their (mis)information about some scientific concepts from mass media sources. Genetics image from www.shutterstock.com

‘You catch criminals with DNA’: What kids know (and don’t know) about genetics

“DNA is your blood in you, we can use DNA as evidence if someone’s been stabbed. We can run tests in suspects.” (Girl, 12, central Queensland) “DNA has to do with blood types and fingerprints, it helps…
Science, like the benefits stemming from it, is international and should be viewed that way. Science, like the benefits stemming from it, is international and should be viewed that way. tuartpilbrow

Stupid science funding decisions? Australia’s not the only dunce

The Australian government’s ironic and perverse decision to better fund schools at the expense of already-promised university funding would make for a good episode of the 1980s sitcom Yes, Prime Minister…
Getting the mix right: we need to take a closer look at the future of science education. Getting the mix right: we need to take a closer look at the future of science education. Science education image from www.shutterstock.com

Science in schools: can we choose a better future?

Every now and then we manufacture a crisis in Australian school science. People write reports. These recommend change, including curriculum change, and point out the ways in which current patterns of school…
If you want to improve science education, standardised science literacy tests is not the way to go. If you want to improve science education, standardised science literacy tests is not the way to go. Test image from www.shutterstock.com

NAPLAN science tests unlikely to improve science education

The federal Labor government’s proposal to expand the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) franchise and include science literacy is not a surprising move. Once national testing…
Australia is stuck in a “deficit model” of science communication. Australia is stuck in a “deficit model” of science communication. -{GP}-

Science engagement in Australia is a 20th century toy

Science engagement in Australia is trapped in the 20th century. It operates under an outdated model that aims to promote and celebrate science, rather than encouraging the public to participate in, and…
Australia is faced with the choice of falling behind or taking steps to keep pace with others. Australia is faced with the choice of falling behind or taking steps to keep pace with others. Marco Crupi Visual Artist

Hang on … Australian R&D doesn’t punch above its weight

Australia punches above its weight in terms of global research, producing more than we might expect given our small population. At least … that’s the line we’ve been fed for years – but is it true? A cracking…
Women are underrepresented in science, but are programs like those run by L'Oreal the answer? Women are underrepresented in science, but are programs like those run by L'Oreal the answer? dno1967b

Is it worth it? L'Oreal pays lip service to women in science

Each year, L’Oreal’s Australian and international women in science programs contribute significant sums of money to support research and encourage girls to enter careers in science, technology and engineering…
Two new international reports on school performance should be put into perspective. Two new international reports on school performance should be put into perspective. Education image from www.shutterstock.com

Are we headed for an educational disaster? Hardly

The recent release of Australia’s performance in the TIMMS (2011) and PIRLS (2011) test results has sparked much media comment about what this means for the quality of Australian education. The focus so…
The latest results of international testing in maths, science and reading means Australia’s education outlook does not look good. The latest results of international testing in maths, science and reading means Australia’s education outlook does not look good. Test image from www.shutterstock.com

Latest tests show PM’s 2025 education goal is in doubt

Prime Minister Julia Gillard in September set an ambitious goal for Australian education: to be ranked as a top-five country in reading, mathematics and science by 2025. Clearly she is hoping to lift Australia…
We’re underestimating what primary school students can understand in science. We’re underestimating what primary school students can understand in science. Formula image from www.shutterstock.com

Testing the theory: taking Einstein to primary schools

School students today are taught physics based on obsolete theories and outmoded ways of thinking. Instead of the truth, most learn a naive simplification - the 300 year-old Newtonian physics, itself based…
Looking to Asian schools is exactly what we shouldn’t be doing. Looking to Asian schools is exactly what we shouldn’t be doing. Chalkboard image www.shutterstock.com

Our Asian schooling infatuation: the problem of PISA envy

It was fun while it lasted Finland, but we’re going cold on you. We thought your schools had the secret but our new infatuation is with Asian school systems. The Prime Minister seems to agree. The government…
A more “authentic” science curriculum can be achieved for schools. A more “authentic” science curriculum can be achieved for schools. aDecorusUniversitas

Teachers note: science and society are intertwined

Is science being taught badly? In the broadest sense, yes. Most Australian school science curriculum documents I see today seem to be about teaching students how different science is from the rest of society…
A passion for science can be contagious. A passion for science can be contagious. Discover Science & Engineering

National Science Week: stirring the scientist in all of us

Today marks the end of National Science Week, an annual celebration of Australian science. It’s always a fun week in which scientists get to share their research with the public, where museums and universities…
Chief Scientist Ian Chubb’s report, released today, presents some serious concerns for the future of Australian science. Chief Scientist Ian Chubb’s report, released today, presents some serious concerns for the future of Australian science. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

A prescription for healthy science? Chief Scientist’s report points the way

Chief Scientist Ian Chubb’s Health of Australian Science report, launched today at the National Press Club, starts on an optimistic note. Australian science is generally in good health: school students…
The days of ‘sit down, shut up and do your science’ are over. Today’s students ask hard questions. The days of ‘sit down, shut up and do your science’ are over. Today’s students ask hard questions. University of Iowa

Teaching kids to think critically about climate

Two recently published books suggest that the public - and school children in particular - are being fed lies about environmental issues such as climate change. The books - “How to Get Expelled from School…
Flickr/Discover Science & Engineering

Primary school science education – is there a winning formula?

Australia’s Chief Scientist, Ian Chubb, released a worrying report earlier this year. Unhealthy Science? University Natural and Physical Sciences 2002 - 2009/10 revealed the number of students studying…
The level of political discourse is descending to new lows … but why? The level of political discourse is descending to new lows … but why? Garrettc

Doctor, doctor: why so few scientists in top government jobs?

Given the importance of science and technology to modern life, particularly in developed nations, why don’t we see more scientists in leading governmental positions? This dearth is particularly stark in…
Ian Plimer says kids are being taught activism, not science. Ian Plimer says kids are being taught activism, not science. woodleywonderworks

Plimer’s climate change book for kids underestimates science education

The forces of climate science denial have geared down a level. Having failed in their attempt to confuse adults and stop the parliament adopting a timid first step in response to climate change, they are…
ASKAP sun up antennas. ASKAP sun up antennas. Swinburne Astronomy Productions/CSIRO

The future of Australian science – a Nobel Prize winner’s view

Newly-minted Nobel Laureate Professor Brian Schmidt reflects on the state of Australian science. The feted astronomer is optimistic about the future and the contribution science can make to improving lives…
Science takes brains – but perseverance and luck often play a vital role. Science takes brains – but perseverance and luck often play a vital role. AdamNF

Is science an exciting adventure or bursting with frustration and failure?

The progress and success of any society, and in fact civilisation, is the result of its collective knowledge. It’s hard to fathom the amount of knowledge gathered through millennia of human evolution…
Australia ranks poorly for the number of graduates emerging with a science degree. Australia ranks poorly for the number of graduates emerging with a science degree. epSos.de

Science, maths and the future of Australia

Australia faces many big challenges – in the economy, health, energy, water, climate change, infrastructure, sustainable agriculture and the preservation of our precious biodiversity. To meet these, we…

Research and News (6)