Tag Archives: Science Policy

From The Lab: Google World Science Fair and a New Generation of Idea-Makers

The Google Science Fair: the first-ever global internet science competition is sure to have a tremendous impact on science education and innovation.

In his State of the Union speech in January, US President Barack Obama proclaimed that “we need to teach our kids that it’s not just the winner of the Super Bowl who deserves to be celebrated, but the winner of the science fair.” A noble (and correct) assessment, to be sure, but one mired in numerous educational and cultural obstacles. For one thing, science fairs themselves are at a perilous crossroads. A New York Times report issued in February stated that not only is participation in science fairs among high school kids falling, but that the kind of creativity and independent exploration that these competitions necessitate is impossible under current rigid test-driven educational guidelines for teaching mathematics and science. Indeed, an interesting recent Newsweek article on “The Creativity Crisis” conveyed research studies showing that for the first time, American creativity is declining. How appropriate, then, that this April (national math education month) brings the culmination of the Google World Science Fair, the first ever competition of its kind transpiring online and open to lab rats from all over the globe. ScriptPhD.com discusses why this could be a game-changer for the next generation of young scientists, under the “continue reading” cut.
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Why Science is the Ultimate Blue-Chip Investment

The famous French scientist Louis Pasteur once said, “There are no such things as applied sciences, only applications of science.” As a nation we are continuing to find ourselves in increasingly difficult economic times. Our state and federally elected leaders are constantly under pressure to make difficult appropriations decisions at all levels of their budgets. At the federal level, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), our nation’s primary investor of biomedical research funding, is no exception during this economy. A recent New York Times article, The Science of Spending Stimulus Money Wisely, questioned the value of funding basic research at the cost of immediate jobs and dividends. Indeed, a central question regarding the public financing of biomedical research emerges more routinely: How do we strike the right balance between the funding of basic research and the funding of applied research? What is the value of each to scientific development, the pursuit of knowledge, and most importantly, mankind? These question have been debated for generations, largely because there is no right answer. There is no exact formula, or panel of experts that will be able to determine the exact dollar amount which should be spent in each area, nor is there a correct percentage by which the money should be divided between the two areas. The following article postulates that continued funding and public understanding of basic research, the foundation for all applied research, is the smartest long-term investment of all.
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