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Science goes pop

Updated: 2012-09-24 09:01
By Wang Ru ( China Daily)

Science goes pop

Zhou Ruze shows a model rocket to students at the second Beijing Science Festival. Photos by Wang Ru / China Daily

Science goes pop

Clockwise from the bottom: A science teacher from Beijing Bayi High School showcases students' cleaner robots, which use mechanical arms to pick up trash. A model water-power generator is displayed at the festival. A primary school student shows seeds of different crops.

A recent festival demonstrates popular science education's growth in China. Wang Ru reports in Beijing.

Zhou Ruze says he has seen great things happen in science popularization over the 15 years he has worked as a science teacher after his retirement.

The 75-year-old says a growing number of tools are available for the two-hour science classes he teaches at the No 2 Dingfuzhuang Primary School in Beijing.

"We had limited popular science books and a few simple instruments 20 years ago," he says. "With all the means we have now, we can introduce science's interesting and funny side. Humans are naturally curious about the unknown. I'm delighted science education is much more colorful and awe-inspiring than 30 years ago. It's a golden time."

Zhou and his students brought handmade rockets and other mechanical devices to their pavilion at the second Beijing Science Festival.

Theirs was one of 203 stands belonging to schools, colleges, technology research institutes, companies and NGOs. It also gathered 25 international science popularization groups from 15 countries and regions.

The festival ran in a 10,000-sq-m venue near the National Stadium from Sept 12-14. It was organized by the Beijing Association for Science and Technology. It also included a forum of scientists, policymakers and popular science fiction writers.

It also hosted food producers, who showcased their food safety and security innovations, since these issues are high on the public agenda.

The festival went beyond the realm of technical know-how to embrace innovation, inspiration and a passion for science.

Zhang Yu, a sales manager of a science education company based in Beijing, passed out special business cards with an optical illusion on the back.

His company, which was founded in 2005 and has a staff of 20, provides science education solutions and instruments to more than 100 schools in Beijing. Its products include those it developed or imported and range from simple wooden puzzles to advanced instruments, such as centrifugal force machines and solar energy packs.

"Science education is a booming market," Zhang says.

"Parents understand textbooks are not enough to nurture their children's problem-solving abilities and curiosity."

Screams came from a pavilion run by Hualu Rider Technology that showed a 4D film simulating various natural disasters. Its seats bounced, dropped and shook to embellish the 3D visual effects.

The company in Beijing sets up film booths in shopping malls, fairs and parks that show popular science films created for children, deputy manager Bu Zhaohui says.

"It's very popular now," he says.

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