Panel: Engaging Kids With the Wonder of Science

Posted by QED at 10:23am on September 5th 2016

Many people’s experience of science at school amounts to little more than remembering solubility rules and listing the parts of a flower. Far too often, the chance to engage children with the curiosity and wonder of science and the joy of discovery is overlooked in favour of teaching the dry facts and figures required to pass a test. The scientific method and basic critical thinking tools are rarely prioritised, not only in the science syllabus, but as essential life skills. Science is all too often presented as a dry subject.

We are taught the basic facts of the moon landing whilst glossing over the beauty of it. Joining Cosmic Genome founder Trent Burton on our panel exploring ways to engage children with the science to help inspire the next generation of critical thinkers will be Dr Karl Kruszelnicki, Matt Parker, Ginny Smith and Sally Le Page.

Trent Burton is the co-director and founder of Trunkman Productions, a multimedia and live events production company focused on science entertainment. His work includes The Incomplete Map of the Cosmic Genome, Book Shambles, The Infinite Monkey Cage, the upcoming Moncure Conway documentary, The Empty Niche and most recently the children’s web series The Quest For Wonder starring Robin Ince and Professor Brian Cox.

Dr Karl Kruszelnicki is one of the most recognisable and trusted figures in science communication in Australia, and has been cited by many Australian skeptics and scientists as their inspiration for getting interested in science. Dr Karl regularly speaks at events for children, answering science questions in accessible and approachable language. He is also the author of over twenty best selling popular science books.

Matt Parker is a stand-up comedian and mathematician, probably best known as one third of Festival of the Spoken Nerd. He is a regular contributor to Numberphile, the phenomenally-popular YouTube series teaching maths to children of all ages. His video explaining the problems with the number zero has racked up more than 2.5million views, and his own YouTube channel has amassed millions of views.

Ginny Smith is a science communicator who has performed science shows about the brain at many a science festival including Cheltenham, Blue Dot, Cambridge and Manchester as well as to school groups around the country. She presents science and technology TV and radio shows for groups including The Naked Scientists and Cambridge TV, interviewing experts on topics ranging from consciousness to graphene.

Sally Le Page is the host of ‘Shed Science’, a YouTube series exploring the world of biology, presented from her garden shed. Her video ‘Without Evolution’, won the national The Guardian and Oxford University Press Very Short Film Competition in 2013. Sally regularly teaches life science to children at the Oxford Museum of Natural History and presented the pilot for a natural history programme for CBeebies.

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