Heading West To Uncertainty

Here I am in Perth on the other side of Australia for CONASTA 56, the Australian Science Teacher’s Association Annual Conference, (which also is the ICASE 2007 and WorldSTE2007), wow what a mouthful. As a result of this synchronicity the conference has attracted a stellar group of speakers and delegates.

Today kicked off with a fabulous keynote from Lord Robert Winston. Noting the worldwide decline in enrollments in science and engineering courses at the very time when industry cannot meet its needs in this area. He went on to explore some of the reasons for this state of affairs including student’s perceptions of science, the manner in which science is taught and the substandard facilities that characterize many science classrooms.

Lord Winston reserved his strongest criticism however for his fellow scientists for making it more difficult for the public to understand the position of science because of the way that science is portrayed. He suggested that too much science today was presented as immutable truths rather than from the uncertainty principle that has previously guided science. When this is acerbated by the corporatisation of science and media and politicians who seek to use science to advance causes outside of the context of the
science then it is not difficult to see why science has lost some of its lustre.

In a forum presentation that followed the opening address many of the themes covered by Lord Winston were reiterated and added to with Professor Paul Perkins building on the notion of scientific uncertainty stating that the only certainty in science is uncertainty.

Overall thoroughly thought provoking.

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