Science in Our Daily Lives – 2150期

Fun in Science

   Using plastic to make any shape you want for fun! Kids enjoy using creativity and imagination to make their own works in science class at Mother Nature Science Education Center(大自然科學教育推廣中心). Plastic is a type of commonly seen material in the world, most items we use nowadays are made of plastic. As we know, plastic softens when exposed to heat; however, do you know that plastics are classified into different types? For instance, PET(聚乙烯), HDPE(高密度聚乙烯), PVC(聚氯乙烯), LDPE(低密度聚乙烯)and so on. PVC is poisonous when temperature reaches sixty degrees and above. Nonetheless, some food wrappers we often use in the kitchen are PVC.

   Through the process of making plastic wrappers and models by hand, kids get the opportunity to learn that plastics are light, transparent, insulated, and ductile; what’s more, they also learn that plastics are difficult to be recycled and the toxic gas from burning is bad for our health. Having this knowledge in mind, children know it is important to reduce the use plastics in order to protect our environment. 

   Unlike simply listening to the teacher lecturing in class, kids can learn the knowledge of science by doing experiments themselves in class at Mother Nature. “Science is fun and easily connected to our lives. The only way to learn the subject of science well is by conducting experiments in science by yourself.” said Kuan-chiao Chien(簡觀喬 ), the director of Mother Nature Science Education Center.


The Importance of Science 

 Life is short. However, great scientists in the world are successful because they are always curious about the world and willing to explore the new territory. Scientific American(科學人雜誌) deputy editor-in-chief Mung-yuan Chang(張孟媛)shared,“Traditional science education is too rigid and fixed, lacking interesting stories that can attract and motivate students.” PanSci Knowledge(泛科學)is reaching out to readers through Internet community.“Nowadays, people like watching movies and video clips as a way to know about the world, which from a scientific point of view, not many people are aware of .”said the PanSci Knowledge editor-in-chief Kuo-wei Cheng(鄭國威).

 Science is the basis of all technologies and has been developed further under modern civilization. Besides, science can be an introduction when discussing public issue. For example, whether we should continue the use of nuclear energy is one of the most controversial issues in Taiwan. All discussions and debates require scientific support and evidence, or they would simply turn into political back-and-forth between different political parties, or even would be manipulated as a conspiracy theory.

 Without science, we can neither explore the origin of human beings nor have a better future; it has its own logic. “Science allows people to better understand the world and solve problems in a systematical way, and it’s also a way to find the truth.” Cheng explained.  

 Reports related to Science have not been the mainstream topics in Taiwan. Compared to Japan and western countries, we still have a lot of work to do to raise up our scientific literacy(科學素養).“Indeed, we need good economy to create job opportunities for people, but that is not enough. We should know that science is also about imagination, pleasure and substantiality. This is an adventure that the earth offers us, and it is human nature to explore the unknown.” Mung-yuan Chang shared.

 Creating a prosperous scientific atmosphere requires the so called “Science Communication”(科學傳播), in which the public receive relevant information via mass media, such as the Internet, television, newspaper, broadcasts and magazine. The broader it reaches, the more it helps the society. Once the public is willing to take part in promoting science, it will be a huge leap into a rosier future.


Words From a Dean: Research and Education

   To find out the current situation of scientific research in Taiwan, Chih-ta Chia(賈至達), dean of College of Science at National Taiwan Normal University(國立台灣師範大學物理學院院長), points out that there are a number of advantages in the circle of scientific research in Taiwan. Due to the limited people in the field of research, it allows every individual researcher to dedicate to their project and would not have to worry about picking the same topic with one another. This really makes science research in Taiwan much easier as researchers can choose their own particular fields to work on. However, Chia also mentioned that researchers in Taiwan often end up studying the similar hot topics simultaneously, creating imbalance in domestic science research.

   What differentiates and foreign colleges from the domestic ones are the research resources they receive. Chia shared that back in the time when he was studying in Arizona State University(亞利桑那州立大學), whenever the lab needed to purchase materials to conduct experiments, there were chemical stores in the university town for all of his purchases, with several factories providing numbers of services. However, the same convenience could never be imagined in Taiwan, where chemical substances are carefully restricted under government regulations.

   Another issue that is also important is the way of teaching. Chih-ta Chia indicates that the most urgent problem of college education in Taiwan is that students are lacking of practical experience. “The ability to dictate their own idea and demonstrate it through experiments is the basic skill that a science researcher should possess. College education should cultivate students with such fundamental abilities.” Chia stated. Unfortunately, both teachers and students are getting used to the form of rote learning instead of running practical drills. Students cram for a series of tests and exams since they are little. To make a difference, Chia emphasizes on the importance of interactive learning environment engaging students and teachers in dialogues and discussions in classes.

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