Science Near Me: An Exciting New Way to Learn About Science

Science Near Me An Exciting New Way to Learn About
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Nowadays, it is not out of place to say, a quick Google query is the reflex for curiosity. Whether you are wondering where the nearest eatery is located or what the scientific justification for any phenomenon is, punch the question into a search engine, and only a few seconds after, there will be many answers. The question is, how can science educators and researchers use this widespread search-engine satiated curiosity to promote public science engagement? Science education researcher, Kimberley Preston from Oregon State University and her colleagues have created ScienceNearMe to cater for that

According to Oberlo, there are 8.5 billion Google search queries every single day. As you may be aware, these queries can go from serious issues to even the silliest of issues. But thousands of results appear on the screen, leaving quite a frightening pool of knowledge for anyone to sift through. One way to get accurate science knowledge is to hear from the experts, visit science centres and museums, or attend science events such as shows, festivals, and fairs. But we can get on with our busy lives without paying much attention to the rich body of scientific knowledge available to us.

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Here is a good example. Not until Kenyan biochemist, molecular biologist and educator, Dr. Joy Kiano, (based in Tanzania) was designing a show known as N*GEN to provide science education for kids during the COVID-19 pandemic, he did not know that the Keyan national museum housed the skeleton of a boy who lived 1.6 million years ago. It was in preparing teaching materials for the kids on fossil matter and researching the greatest African  scientists that ever lived that this discovery was made. Imagine other useful pieces of scientific information that might have inspired many young African Scientists, collecting dust in science archives and museums.

With more conversations about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) making it into public discusses, one can infer that public science engagement is improving. According to the News Decoder, Dr. Joy’s television show was created to “fill gaps in the science curriculum while challenging gender norms by profiling African women scientists.” The ongoing efforts to improve science literacy in Africa is worthy of applause. Aside from N*GEN, there are other new ways scientists are pouring intentionality into science communication to make science less boring. A top example is the South African Scifest which has been for over 24 years. Annually, South African scientists gather to host a national science festival to celebrate science.

In addition to these, Kimberley and her team have created ScienceNearMe.org, a new, free, open web resource that helps everyday people to discover science events happening around them or the science museums that are open for visitation. With the support of National Science Foundation, SciStarter created ScienceNearMe.org which shares information based on the user’s location and interests.

Kimberley Preston describes this incredible resource thus: “Science Near Me is a web platform based on and built by citizen science organization SciStarter, that serves as a science engagement buffet: We digitally connect databases and calendars from museums, festivals, and many other partners offering thousands of local and national opportunities. That makes it easier than ever before for you to discover the science experiences best for you based on your interests and location.”

There are so many interesting things to learn in the sciences. While some of them are merely fun facts, others will find awesome applications in everyday life if you pay enough attention. Whether you stick to reading Science Sphere or you are signing up for ScienceNearMe.Org right away, make sure you’re actively making efforts to learn about what happens in the world of science.

 

Ehi-kowoicho Ogwiji is a storyteller and natural scientist who is given to advocacy for a science-literate Africa. Ehi-kowoicho aspires to be a renowned science communicator and STEM thought leader in Africa and beyond. She writes from Abuja, Nigeria. Connect with her on social media @ogwijiehi or email her at [email protected]

Africa Daily News, New York

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