lady gaga in the lab?

By Alison Campbell 11/10/2010

The government’s Tertiary Education Strategy makes it clear that New Zealand needs to continue to develop a well-educated workforce, and that one of the priorities within this is to support high quality research that helps to drive innovation. So it’s fair to say that a fair proportion of that workforce needs to be employed in areas based on science, technology & education. To achieve that, we need to have a steady (& even increasing) throughput of students who successfully study those subjects at tertiary institutions. And to achieve that, we need to get school students thinking that a career in science/technology/engineering is definitely The Way to Go.

And therein lies the rub. Because there are so many other career options available to school students today, & so many other subject options to take at school. So how do we get students thinking about science, technology & engineering as part of their future? Maybe by producing video (or youtube) clips of cool young scientists talking about their jobs & how they got there? At Discovering Biology in a Digital World, Sandra Porter has another suggestion: music videos!



One of the commenters there suggested that hooking kids into thinking about science in this way is almost dishonest: if they’re not already interested in working in science in the future, then we should just leave them alone & cater just for the already-committed. Me, I’m with one of the others. Often when you see a science lab on TV it’s almost obsessively tidy & full of serious people doing Serious Stuff. A young person keen on science & wondering if they’d like lab work might be put off by that sort of formality. But the scientists shown in this clip are fairly young, obviously having fun & enjoying what they do, & the lab looks like a real working lab. (Although our Health & Safety people would have conniptions about the goings-on!) I’m not suggesting that we ditch the careers talks & go to town with Lady Gaga spoofs – but maybe there’s room for both approaches?

0 Responses to “lady gaga in the lab?”

  • Sorry, but that video just makes me cringe. Yes, by all means we should be making science look fun, but for me the video is too cheesy. It would be interesting to see what young people would make of it. I would have thought it would be more useful to have enthusiastic young people explaining, in simple terms, what they are researching, why they like science, and perhaps showing them enjoying a pizza, or playing sport together afterwards or engaged in lively conversation?
    I suspect there is a large proportion of the high school population who we will never encourage into a scientific career. Perhaps it is better to focus on the ones who are interested, as well as encouraging more interest in science in primary school where I suspect the seeds of interest in science might be best sown
    Just my two cents worth.

    As a complete aside, I just got a copy of The Moral Landscape by Sam Harris this morning in the post. Typical that it should arrive on what looks like one of the busiest work weeks for me – sigh

  • But science is *exciting*. What other job would let me almost get eaten, shot at, blown up, get drunk with the natives, dig parasites out of my skin with a knife and catch numerous tropical diseases?

  • @ Michael – yes, well, I didn’t see a lot in it, but then some students I showed it to were quite taken with it. It’s not a way that I’d choose to communicate about science but OTOH I’ve seen some quite cool rap songs about things like inheritance 🙂

    @ Brendan – mmm, & how else could I get to have swans in the back spare bedroom? Wait, what? when did you almost get eaten?!?

  • Umm… crocodiles tend to regard me as a slow pink foodgroup. So I guess that’s everytime I go to PNG or N Australia 😛

    Sadly the gators I ran into in Florida were too small to be a real threat,

  • ‘sadly’? It rather sounds as if you enjoy the prospect of being a slow pink foodgroup that moves just fast enough 🙂

  • Thanks, Grant 🙂
    I particularly liked her final comment on the first post you linked to:
    “None of these videos are going to convince anyone other than other nerds that scientists are “cool”, but hopefully it will show those young nerds that scientists aren’t all old, cold and aloof, or pipetting round the clock, and that mixed in between all the hard work it takes to do research you can also find time for some fun.”

  • One of my students just dropped me a line to say: Got a bit distracted on your Bioblog and watched the lady gaga video. That’s AWESOME! They should show more of those at career nights!

  • Oh, and Brendon- I agree, *science* is exciting! I have many years of clinging to cliffs, jumping out of helicopters, falling off small boats and being carried off by swarms of sandflies. Not to mention ten days at a time in a tent in the rain with team mates- all for *Science* !

  • Ooooh, hipster Science fashion! I’d seen the ‘teach the controversy’ ones before, but not these. Luuuuv the ‘sir critter’ range; I’d go for the nattily accoutred anglerfish any day 🙂