Does Science Matter?
Life is all about decisions. What kind of heating system should I get for my home? Should I get a flu shot? Do I vote for the candidate that will support stem cell research? More than ever before in human history, the decisions that face us require an understanding of science.
A great place to start is with the education of youth. A group of concerned Brunswick students decided to take on a project to create a film titled, “Science Matters.” Under the guidance of Maria Palopoli, a Brunswick teacher, the students (Andrew Bobker, Ravn Jenkins, Sarah Judd, Andrew Kew and Parker Wild) designed a survey about science misconceptions. The surveys were given to 457 respondents (elementary students, middle school students and adults in Brunswick and other Maine communities.) Once the data was analyzed, the students chose to address the misconceptions in their film.
A common misconception found in all age groups dealt with what causes the earth’s seasons. In both elementary and adult groups, only 52 percent chose the right answer while even fewer middle school students, 46 percent, were correct. (In case you were wondering, it is the tilt of the earth, not the distance from the sun that causes the seasons!)
The “Science Matters” team went into a sixth-grade classroom to teach a lesson to help change the misconception. Some of these efforts are highlighted in the film.
Another issue addressed was global climate change. The team was delighted to realize how seriously Mainers take the issue. A study of 1,000 adults by Climate Change Communication projects at Yale and George Mason universities revealed that only 61 percent of adults believe climate change is real compared to 80 percent of the adults they surveyed in Maine.
To get their point across that science is important to the future and just “plain fun,” the team worked countless hours to increase their technological skills and studied filming techniques. They made animations, learned how to use advanced iMovie techniques on their schoolissued laptops, created music in GarageBand and received generous support from Bowdoin College where they were granted access to film some scenes in a real science lab.
Their efforts didn’t go unnoticed. Jim Moulton, who works for Apple, interviewed the students after he saw the film. Former Gov. Angus King, the person whose passion was responsible for the Maine laptop program, plans to publish the movie on the Maine International Center for Digital Learning site (MICDL).
A letter from Stephen Bowen, the Commissioner of Education in Maine, commended the students and asked to put the movie on the state’s iTunes University site. The film was highlighted on Bowdoin College’s website.
The “Science Matters” team challenges other students to take on projects like this to help make a difference in their communities.
The film can be seen in two parts, at the following links: