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How Effective Is Science Outreach?

School science experiment

The real aim of the IYC is to “increase the public appreciation and understanding of chemistry, increase young people’s interest in science, and generate enthusiasm for the creative future of chemistry”.

By Ian Rae

Will the International Year of Chemistry successfully promote science to the community?

Ian Rae is a thoughtful skeptic and former RACI President.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

2011 is the International Year of Chemistry (IYC). It follows the International Year of Biodiversity in 2010 and the International Year of Astronomy in 2009, and will be enjoyed concurrently with international years for forests and for people of African descent. It’s also World Veterinary Year.

According to the President of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC), the IYC “will give a global boost to chemical science in which our life and future are grounded”. That’s nice. As the detail unfolds, however, we find that the real aim of the IYC is to “increase the public appreciation and understanding of chemistry, increase young people’s interest in science, and generate enthusiasm for the creative future of chemistry”.

The celebrations in Australia are led by the Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI), which has received generous government funding to bring chemical science to the public, especially the young public. Initiatives are also coming from organisations like CSIRO and the various science and technology centres, as well as some university research groups.

IUPAC launched IYC 2011 in Paris in late January, with RACI following in Canberra in early February. Both events were upstaged, however, by a women’s breakfast that rolled around the world on 18 January, starting in New Zealand with eight Australian venues close behind...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.