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AJ Cann :: Blog :: Screaming jelly babies - we're f*cked

December 01, 2008


No BBC News and TDA, science is not about blowing things up:

What the hell happened to intellectual curiosity? No wonder the career structure in science sucks.

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Posted by AJ Cann


  1. I think it is an excellent way of getting kids interested in science - they aren't going to think they'll spend all day blowing up jelly babies but might prompt them to ask their science teachers how the body manages to release that energy in a more controlled way - the video serves to stimulate intellectual curiosity - and those who only see the video without any discussion in class will at least remember it and that there is a lot of energy stored in a jelly baby - that is science. Only thing I'd change is adding some way to record the amount of energy to show that a scientist would want to do that but only if it didn't detract from the show.

    And I don't get the reference to career structure in science.

    Tony LindeTony Linde on Tuesday, 02 December 2008, 08:38 GMT # |

  2. The snag is Tony, they do. They come to University having watched popular science programs on TV (and been deprived of almost any real practical science in schools - particularly IB students such as the one who complained to me within the last hour how hard our first year course is), expecting it to be all bangs and smells like Brainiac on speed. And it's not. Basic science involves a lot of "boring" stuff, like chemistry, taxonomy and very repetitive data gathering. Never having experienced this, students have a low boredom threshold, so the complain, find it difficult to study, and may leave for something more interesting, like Media Studies, where birds sing and the sun shines all day long (as they see it).

    And if they stay, after they graduate, they find graduate level jobs in science are hard to come by, relatively poorly paid, demand ridiculous dedication and are unrelentingly competitive. What, you only got three grants last year? We're going to employ the other applicant, who got four.

    So what's the answer?

    Tell it like it is. Don't oversell them science as something easy that everyone can be successful at. Give them realistic expectations of what they can reasonably expect at the level society is prepared to fund science.


    AJ CannAJ Cann on Tuesday, 02 December 2008, 09:18 GMT # |

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