Making science and inquiry interesting to a younger generation

One of the challenges that we have to deal with when trying to Universities to work closer with industries in South Africa is a general lack of “inquisitiveness” by younger students. They want management jobs, not jobs in factories, research labs or out there. Well, I guess the problem start at a younger age. But just before you call me a stereotypical or a racist, consider this: Its not only happening here in South Africa. Other countries have the same problem.

So how do we make children more intrigued in science? Well, good teachers sounds obvious. Interesting school projects is another. But how about the media, television and all the other signals that a society broadcast? Here in South Africa, the air is thick with politics and bad news. Our family cannot even listen to the radio on our way to school.

So with all of this said, lets give credit to NASA for this parody on Gangnam Style (for older readers, Gangnam Style is a song that has become one of the most watched videos of Youtube). It explains the work of NASA and several science principles.


Last year in November I had the privilege to take my family to Washington DC. After 6 days of visiting mostly free museums, like the Smithsonian Air and Space museum, I have 2 eight year old scientists in my house. I confess I also bought several books and gadgets, but hey. THE KIDS want to investigate things. Everything. They want to understand things. They argue about how to solve problems. Although they are in a good school and we try to raise them to be inquisitive, nothing prepared us for this excellent exposure in Washington DC.

So perhaps we should make funny video clips like this one too, targeted at younger people. Lets get younger people to WANT to visit factories, research institutions, universities and labs. Lets get cameras in there and get the message out that we too are working not just on social problems, but also on scientific problems! Science is not just a subject or a project in school, a scientific approach opens up the beautiful mysteries of our world.

January lazy linking

Excuse me for being a bit slow….but I cannot shrug off the holiday feeling yet.  So to make up I provide you with links to some interesting articles in other blogs that I have read in the last few days:

Urbanisation,complexity and poverty – or why aid agencies should be reading Jane Jacobs

This is an excellent article about the famous Jane Jacobs and how she described cities as living ecosystems. The author describes several insights that development agencies should learn from Jane Jacobs and other complex systems authors.

The author of the “Aid on the edge of chaos“, Ben Ramalingam, is also the lead author of a fantastic paper  of a 2008 Overseas Development Institute working paper ‘Exploring the Science of Complexity: Ideas and Implications for International Development and Humanitarian Efforts’.  This is a publication worth reading!

By the way, you will see me post more on the topic of complexity, as my December reading list finally convinced me that traditional economics cannot provide the answers to the complex and adaptive economic system that we are part of.