Glasgow Science Centre Manifesto Introduction A nation whose citizens are interested and educated in science and technology is more prosperous, more successful and has a brighter future. Science drives innovation and economic performance. It equips the population with ways to make rational judgements, become questioning consumers and responsible citizens. Many nations subscribe to the idea that it is crucial to drive science comprehension and engagement and impart basic scientific knowledge amongst the population at large. The first Indian Prime Minister Nehru famously stated “…who indeed could afford to ignore science today? At every turn we have to seek its aid... The future belongs to science and those who make friends with science”. As a result India is now one of the fastest developing science bases in the world. The level of investment in science occurs not as a whim or fad, but because of a real belief that commercial and societal benefit will accrue. Scotland has an excellent track record in scientific achievement and innovation, a dynamic science base and clear aspirations for the contribution that science can bring to the country in the future. However many indicators show that realising these aspirations is at risk. Our industrial, educational and career performance in science is under threat. Feedback from several sources shows a widening gap between the performance required to ensure Scotland continues to be an inventive, innovative and scientifically literate society and the current position. In the ‘Trends in International Maths and Science Study’ (United States Institute of Education Studies, 2007) Scotland comes 22nd out of 36 for Science education, whilst USA and England come 4th and 5th respectively. Furthermore the UK Business Innovation Survey (2010 - Dept. for Business Innovation and Skills) shows that Scotland is now the lowest of all the UK regions for innovation, and that innovation is in part constrained by lack of availability of skills in the workplace. These worrying statistics need to be addressed. One way of doing so, is to better support science education across formal and informal situations and to facilitate more public engagement with science. Both of these lead to greater comprehension of science, better appreciation of the fruits of scientific endeavour, a greater appetite to study science and most importantly more young people determined to follow a career path in science.
What Science Centres provide Science Centres are permanent, year-round, high volume, accessible venues that the public regard as friendly places with well-established education programmes. These characteristics make us particularly valuable in supporting education and driving public engagement. We ensure quality and consistency of message, and inspire trust in the independence and scientific integrity of the information available to visitors. The benefit of Science Centres is widely recognised as highlighted by Bell et al 2009 “Learning Science in Informal Environments” National Research Council of the National Academies USA. Nations throughout the world are investing increased resources despite the difficult worldwide economic climate, for example, China has committed to establishing a Science Centre in every one of its major cities, Poland has just created one of the largest Centres in Europe in Warsaw and Estonia, Lithuania and Malta are all in the process of building new Centres. Glasgow Science Centre is committed to ensuring that we develop a scientifically aware and literate society in Scotland. Our mission is to promote science and technology through enjoyable, thought-provoking and exciting experiences that inspire all to explore, understand, engage and participate in the world around them. We achieve this by: 1. Giving everyone access to a place where science is made comprehensible, engaging and wonderful. 2. Providing an environment that supplements, supports and builds on educational activity, particularly at primary and secondary level, including supporting teachers through continuous professional development (CPD) in the Scottish schools system. 3. Supporting National initiatives for the furtherance of science in formal and informal education. 4. Creating, catalysing and facilitating the link between academia, industry and the citizen. 5. Actively presenting issues related to science and society where the voices of citizens can be heard and public debate is stimulated.
What is needed? To utilise science to improve the lives of Scotland’s citizens will require strong partnerships to be formed between the public, private and voluntary sectors. This can only be achieved if the Government gives a strong and consistent lead. To ensure success, GSC believes that the Government should prioritise, support, catalyse and commit to: 1. Funding admission to one of Scotland’s Science Centres for every school pupil in Scotland at least once a year as part of Curriculum for Excellence. 2. Resourcing the Scottish Science Centres to extend their delivery of CPD for teachers to enhance their ability to deliver the Curriculum for Excellence. 3. Creating an active network of organisations that share and promote information on careers in Science. 4. Driving a greater commitment to public engagement in Science by encouraging the Universities and Colleges Funding Council to give a higher priority to communicating Science. 5. Encouraging more Science based companies to have greater engagement with the public by attaching appropriate conditions for the receipt of public funding and planning consents. The Science Centres in Scotland are currently an under utilised resource and have the capacity to make a major contribution to achieving success for Scotland.