In 2018, NEMO Science Museum in Amsterdam became fifth on the list of most visited museums in the Netherlands. That classification alone shows the enormous interest there is in science. That is important and that interest must above all be nurtured and stimulated as much as possible; science and technology are, after all, the driving forces behind many human and social developments.
But technological developments are not making it any easier for scientific and ethical issues. Technology continues, ethics can hardly keep up. The speed of technological developments is unprecedented. This also creates challenges for science. Not everyone can follow what is happening and that gives Fake News plenty of space.
Those wrong ideas and untruths are in themselves a big problem, but the result is that scientific facts are no longer trusted. Especially when science distinguishes sense from nonsense. This means that we do not have discussions about the subjects that we should discuss with each other, which are important for a healthy and future-proof society.
Initiatives that bring science, culture, and education together, such as a science museum, have been providing a solution for years to make people enthusiastic about science, regardless of education, background, or age, and offer them the opportunity to inform and involve them in a world in which the importance of science is great. You could say that the scientific way is the most reliable agreement we have as a society to declare something a fact.
Our youth, in particular, is immersed in a hugely fast-changing world, in which technology greatly influences their personal development, their perception of the world, and their ability to distinguish between opinions, falsehoods, and facts. It is therefore also important to conduct research into how, for example, science subjects can be integrated into education at an earlier stage.
Curiosity is at its absolute peak in primary school children. It is precisely then that it is interesting for all children to become acquainted with scientific phenomena and technological applications. To make this educational leap forward, training of students at the PABO and support and training of teachers already working in primary education is essential. Current initiatives to facilitate teaching materials for (future) teachers in primary education in the field of science and science cannot, therefore, be stimulated enough.
Not only children with a fascination for science benefit from this type of education. The very essence of science and its importance for social developments and the formation of personal images and opinions is essential for every child who will soon be subject to a digital playing field in which many untruths circulate. Falsehoods that are seen as truth are a serious threat to innovation and our democratic rule of law.
It is important to provide sufficient opportunities in the child’s environment to learn about science. At school and beyond. That is why there are knowledge circles, such as NEMO Kennislink, science museums, exhibitions, and workshops. All with the aim of keeping children, high school students, and adults permanently involved in science in the most fun way possible. In a playful way, everyone can enjoy other things from science that he or she likes. Because science is not only useful, it is surprising and fun. Above all, let us safeguard norms and values by staying involved with science and factual truths with a mix of education and entertainment.