Why we need stronger SciencesJuly 16th, 2013 by Dexter Findley
To put it bluntly, Britain needs a strong high tech sector, and needs it fast.
We're a nation with a dangerously nebulous economic foundation. Gone are the days of Big Industry in this country, of coal mines and steel foundries. Our GDP is now built on the sand of the City - so fickle and shifting - and the Consumer Culture we're all part of.
Across the pond, the story is different. The US dominates the world's tech market, closely followed by Japan and Korea. Its pharma sector (not the most ethical of industries, true) is a behemoth of world medicine production. It has the strongest genetics research (and the money to fund it), and its entrepreneurs are taking privatized space exploration and mining as a serious proposition.
Britain does have its tech stars - Dyson, and the weapons manufacturers BAE Systems - but they are few and far between. While we had something of a digital Renaissance in the 70s and 80s, our latest computational forays have been quieter (an exception being made for the Raspberry Pi, which is important in a very different way).
But, as a country, we have a wonderful technological and scientific tradition - perhaps the strongest in the world: Charles Darwin, Crick and Watson, Alan Turing, Alexander Fleming, them and more. As a country we were responsible for a breathtaking array of breakthroughs. Yet, while interest in hard sciences and Maths has risen slightly over the past few years (at A level), it's a long way from becoming the strong sector we need it to be.
The answer, as with many world issues, lies in education. We need to enliven our kids to the spirit of science, get them captivated by it, and most importantly, invest in it as a subject and in them as individuals. Good progress has been made by Brian Cox and co., but the education system is still lacking the drive, structure and funds to follow that motivation through.
Education is the ultimate investment. A strong science and tech industry starts with strong science and Maths education. If we want to reclaim our position at the forefront of discovery, build a firm economic foundation and jostle with the US, India and China in the Final Frontier, we're going to have to invest in scientific education. In short, if we're going to keep our position as a world player, we're going to need more than just a nation of fund managers, business analysts and credit controllers.
Check out our Article on the Top 5 Home Science experiments to spark your kids' imagination!