150 science centres across the world, including the Centre for Life, Newcastle, are currently hosting events run in conjunction with the forthcoming Rio+20 United Nations Conference this June in Brazil and its precursor conference Planet Under Pressure, in London this week. The events are to gather collective thoughts on the future of our planet.
Today's Planet under Pressure event at the Centre for Life, gave over 150 Year Five primary schoolchildren, from across the region, a chance to voice their concerns.
The children took part in a hands-on activity day and met researchers, practitioners and academics working in the region on alternative energy, energy conservation, sustainable agriculture, water, climate change, biodiversity, desertification, urbanization and air pollution. Speakers have included Dr Ross Harrington of Newcastle University (Acidification of CO2); Susan Gebbels and Annie Cunningham of the Dove Marine Lab (Oceans under Threat), Dr Nicola Stock and Andy Lloyd of Life (Composting and Trains V. Planes respectively) and Thanos Alexakis and George Gkounis of Northumbria University (Energy use and external combustion engines).
The children gathered together at the end of their day into groups, after preparing their ideas and each group presented FIVE things they believe scientists should be doing and FIVE things we should all be doing…here follows a selection:
For the scientists:
Use cactus DNA to produce drought resistant crops (Bishop Ian Ramsey School, Consett)
Make GM plants to use less water and withstand the cold (St John's Chapel and Frosterly schools, Wearhead)
Find ways to stop people wasting water (Central High Newcastle)
Stop the introduction of non native species (Hotspur Primary, Heaton, Newcastle)
Reduce space junk (Bishop Ian Ramsey School, Consett)
Stop Co2 going into the oceans (Central High Newcastle)
Find a way to protect bees (Central High Newcastle)
Use seawater as fuel (St John's Chapel and Frosterley schools, Wearhead)
Investigate the use of renewable energy in the home (Hotspur Primary, Heaton, Newcastle)
And for us?
Buy local (Valley Gardens Middle, Whitley Bay)
Stop cutting down trees (Hotspur Primary, Heaton, Newcastle)
Don't leave the TV on standby (Bishop Ian Ramsey School, Consett)
Walk rather than drive (St John's Chapel and Frosterley schools, Wearhead)
Stop littering (Central High Newcastle)
Try 1 hour without power every week ((Hotspur Primary, Heaton, Newcastle)
Don't leave windows open with the heating on (Bishop Ian Ramsey School, Consett)
Wear layers rather than turning up the heating (St John's Chapel and Frosterley schools, Wearhead)
Recycle more (Central High Newcastle)
And Valley Gardens pupils came up with some suggestions for the government too! :
"More and cheaper public transport" "Look after nature reserves" and "Plant more trees"
The ideas are being taken down to London overnight to the Planet Under Pressure conference (26-29 March, 2012) by Linda Conlon, Life’s Chief Executive, in her role as Vice President of the Association of Science-Technology Centres (ASTC), the body which represents the science centre and museum field worldwide. Linda's ASTC colleagues at the conference include Margit Fischer, President of the Austrian Science Center Network and First Lady of Austria. Linda has worked closely with the First Lady to prepare a speech she will deliver to conference delegates highlighting the role science centres can play in helping policy makers and scientists communicate with the public. Her speech will include the pupils' feedback.
Prof. Roy Sandbach of Proctor & Gamble who gave presentations on both water and bees during the morning rounded up the day at the closing 'ceremony'. He established by a quick head count that all the children had enjoyed themselves and at least half of them were considering being scientists of the future and asked what could he tell them about what it takes to be a scientist? "Curiosity and creativity is what it takes (scientists sometimes get things wrong but they try and try again to get things right by coming up with different solutions)" he said "Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, Marie Curie and Brian Cox were all children once, they have all been 10 years old, just like you…it all started with them being curious ".
Media contact: Nicola McIntosh or Vicky Pepys at Centre for Life on
Tel: (0191) 2438209 email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
About Planet under Pressure Conference
The international science conference will be the biggest gathering of global environmental change specialists in advance of the United Nations Rio+20 Summit: 2,500 scientists, policymakers, industry and media representatives will meet to hear the latest research findings on the state of the planet and discuss concepts for planetary stewardship and societal and economic transformation towards global sustainability.
More information on the web: http://www.planetunderpressure2012.net/