Walking through the doors of MaRS Discovery District’s Phase II building in Toronto, Canada brings visitors face to face with Super Cells: The Power of Stem Cells, a free, award-winning exhibition with the purpose of educating children and teens, ages 4-14, about stem cells, the process of scientific research and aspects of working in a lab. (This exhibit is open daily until November 12, 2015.) While the large components, flashing lights, 3D animations and games are intended to appeal to a child’s imagination, the exhibit has been drawing the attention of children and adults alike.
A 2014 survey of 1,700 adults living in the United Kingdom demonstrated that although “90%” of the population had heard about stem cells, only “34% felt ‘well-informed’” on the subject. Despite this not being an accurate indicator for stem cell awareness here in Canada, I can only assume that the results would be similar, which is why exhibits like Super Cells are so important.
By educating the public about the importance of stem cell research, the potential for funding improves, but by educating children and young adults we are stimulating the minds of the next generation of potential scientists. Getting them interested in science through a stem cell exhibit is the spark that may ignite their curiosity in some related fields: technology, engineering and math (and the exhibit touches on all of these). Before you know it, you’re promoting STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.
With the economy currently evolving to place more value on scientific knowledge and critical thinking skills, STEM education couldn’t be more important. In the United States, ten of the top 14 fastest-growing industries in America require STEM know-how, which is why the U.S. government has been putting such a strong focus on increasing STEM education and opportunities for children.
Even industry is catching on, with the creation of STEM inspired Project Mc2 dolls that are targeted towards young girls with each doll interested in either science, technology, engineering or math. There are even entire sections of online toy stores dedicated to STEM learning. It is clear that STEM education is important, and it is within our reach to educate the next generation for future success.
While I’m not asking you to MacGyver a stem cell exhibit of your own from scratch, I am proposing that you take the time to spread the word about your own research or that of others that you find important, with the purpose of educating and inspiring others. Because what’s the point of working so hard and harboring such a passion for stem cell science if it’s benefits aren’t shared? And you’ll get to tick the grant box called Knowledge Translation.
Want to hear more about STEM education? Watch National Teacher of the Year Finalist Rob Stephenson’s TEDx video below:
Our regular feature, Right Turn, appears every Friday and we invite you to submit your own blog to info(at)ccrm.ca. We encourage you to be creative and use the right (!) side of your brain. We dare you to make us laugh! Right Turn features cartoons, photos, videos and other content to amuse, educate and encourage discussion.
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