Saturday, June 24, 2006

Should science "magic" shows be banned?!

Physics World magazine (published by the Institute of Physics) has a timely and thought-provoking article on science "magic" shows in its June 2006 issue. Averil Macdonald, a science-education consultant and part-time lecturer in physics at the University of Reading UK, challenges the merits of these shows and asks if they really help encourage young people to study science.

This is a very good analysis of these shows, and her arguments against simply focussing on the entertainment "wow" factor to enthuse young people are powerful and well researched. However, many science "magic" shows are about much more than that. Anyone who has been at a show by for example Paul McCrory from Think Differently will have seen that these shows aren't just about "wowing" young people but are about getting them to engage with trying to understand why things are the way they are - and letting them put forward their own ideas to explain things. This interactive approach capitalises on the young people's natural curiosity and imagination in order to give them a crash course in what a lot of fundamental science is about: trying to understand and explain the world. Surely that's a good thing?!

No comments:

Post a Comment