Kristin: We are currently preparing a brief for our launch of AccessNano and reflecting on why this approach to learning nanotechnology in schools is different. I think there are two key reasons. Firstly, it values science as a method of inquiry and encourages critical thinking. Students are given opportunities to observe and conduct experiments, to synthesise ideas and to question the social and ethical impacts of technology. Secondly, AccessNano focuses on the latest, cutting-edge applications of nanotechnology (which is exciting), but also on the context of these applications in a way that is relevant for students. So it doesn’t just discuss the science of gold nanoparticles in detecting meningococcal, it also looks at the context in which a faster, accurate test might save lives (including the lives of teenagers).
In a nice bit of synchronicity, Andrew Maynard tweeted a link to his new blog post covering an agenda for developing science and technology policy for the US. He suggests five goals:
- Foster science-based decision-making
- Develop a social challenges-driven research agenda
- Build Constituencies
- Nurture critical thinking
- Cultivate civic scientists
Fantastic – and being a fan of science-in-context, I whole-heartedly agree that this is where our focus should be. Andrew covers a lot of ground with these goals and his point about science-fact not science-fantasy is one I’d like to come back to. But in the meantime, I suggest you read his post and add your comments.