Motivating the youth to pursue Science as a career
IN a campaign to promote science, technology and innovation among the youth and the public, in general, the Rwanda Youth Science Society (RYSS) held a Star Constellation science camp. Students from FAWE Girls School Astronomy Club, participated in the Science camp in Gicumbi District, Northern Province, two weeks ago, on June, 20 2012.
The above example is part of efforts by several countries struggling to overcome the falling interest of students in pursuing science courses at universities and other institutions of higher learning. Even though more young people are joining higher education, fewer students are choosing mathematics, physics and chemistry as subjects at secondary school, thus resulting in a skills shortage in the science fields.
We believe that students must be interested and motivated to learn before learning can take place. When science is taught out of context and seems irrelevant to their lives, many students lose interest. And once a student’s own motivation is disregarded, even the most careful preparation on the part of the teacher will be wasted. It is crucial, therefore, to highlight the importance of science and its relevance to students’ lives as well as that of the public’s before they pick interest in it.
However, more positive and realistic demonstrations of the scope and limitations of science and scientists, will allow students to pick the interest and understand it better. These challenges can be addressed by mobilising the scientific, engineering and research community to help the youth enjoy science subjects as a possible career path they could take.
The key to reversing this worrying trend is to inspire and motivate young people in the Sciences throughout their school education. The youth have a great role to play when it comes to identifying positive role models and receiving effective career advice. Students’ inspiration and motivation to innovate and think critically can be drawn from outside practical experiences and activities; for example, by constructing science centres where students of all classes and ages can take tours and learn about science and technology in a fun and explorative way.
Learning Science in a fun way motivates and supplements to the classroom’s theoretical work. Unlike Arts subjects, Sciences are more practical and for students to understand them fully, teachers have to appeal to a student’s inner ability to think, imagine and visualise the principle at hand.
Some things that are easily ignored, such as; access to practicing scientists and engineers would also increase students’ interest and enthusiasm, as well as provide valuable information on careers and studies for aspiring young scientists. Having experts who are fiercely passionate and enthusiastic about their subject such as physicists, engineers, technicians, researchers, scientists, et cetera, speak to a classroom, would help put the subject into context and make activities more exciting.
Professionals are able to reveal insight into the current existing technology and scientific advances during seminars and workshops in schools. This helps students imagine and project their place in the future world of science and technology.
Through the Rwanda Youth Science Society (RYSS) activities, we hope to create a generation of youths and young scientists that understand the importance of science, technology and innovation and are self motivated to pursue careers in the scientific fields.
What the current methods lack is consistence and follow-up on the encouragement of the young science pursuers and along the way, students lose interest and give up. Innovation is a long process that takes a lot of copying and pasting ideas, after which, an individual comes up and develops a unique idea from a whole lot of them.
The activities of RYSS inspire and motivate students, but most of all, gives students a sense of wonder and imagination which should be part and parcel of any inventor or scientist.
Through providing a platform for students to express their ideas and celebrate science conferences and workshops are set up to give students a forum on which to present the findings of their own science investigations.
Additionally, activities like science exhibitions and science camps not only motivate them, but also introduce them to other fields of Science. The sky and the stars have always inspired many people and not just the scientists because, they give a sense of wonder and adventure of the mysteries of the universe. Grooming such a culture will certainly impact a positive influence for young scientists.
Contact email: mjndahiro[at]gmail.com