Smart Bioeconomy documentary series: Science news for junior high school and high school students
Blog - Published 23.5.2022
The world needs scientists and engineers – now more than ever. Tackling climate change will require experts and breakthroughs in all areas of science. But natural science programs have suffered from a sharp drop in applicants. So, how can we attract young people to study chemistry or biotechnology? One way is to show them inspiring and accessible short films that highlight recent scientific breakthroughs and their potential in real-world applications.
Over the past year, science journalist Nina Pulkkis has covered numerous topics within biomaterials research in Finnish universities and research centers. From this material she has compiled 5-10 minute video clips for education purposes in collaboration with the Finnish Forest Association. VTT, Aalto University, FinnCERES, Centre for Young Synbio Scientists and Synbio Powerhouse have all contributed to the series, sharing interesting scientific results that address some of our most pressing environmental challenges. The series will be expanded as new topics are documented.
“Young people are very aware and concerned about climate change and environmental issues. Science offers the opportunity to tangibly influence the future. The Smart Bioeconomy series introduces young people to young scientists and the world of science. It also gives them tools for developing opinions that are based on data and proven science. We welcome young people’s views. In fact, they are very important to us as scientists. In addition to all this, the series showcases the wide range of employment opportunities that science offers.”
Tekla Tammelin, Professor, VTT, FinnCERES
“The Smart Bioeconomy -series is an excellent way to increase awareness of biotechnology and synthetic biology to high school students. Our field of science is fairly new, and there are so many opportunities that are not yet widely known. Synthetic biology addresses some of the toughest problems associated with climate change and resource sufficiency, and doing so by harnessing the ingenuity of nature itself. It is very important to inspire high school students by bringing our field forward and ensuring we have future synthetic biologists solving the grand challenges..”
Merja Penttilä, Professor, Aalto University, VTT
The Smart Bioeconomy series takes viewers into laboratories to meet the researchers who are developing exciting solutions to environmental challenges such as the textile and fashion industry, energy harvesting, the production of different super-strong materials and tackling the problem of microplastics. Concrete examples make cutting-edge research more accessible and offer young people hope in facing global challenges. Ideally, education should not only address the challenges, but also provide solutions and ways to make a difference. Research has shown that a large proportion of young people disengage from a problem if the associated challenges are perceived as too great or if they feel hopeless. Additionally, sharing information based on science is vital to counter the widely available misinformation students are likely to encounter.
“For us in Academia it is really vital that high school students understand the opportunities in studying chemistry and material sciences, and how research in these fields can help to solve grand challenges like climate crisis, sustainable energy solutions and need for clean water. Educating young people early on, we have a better chance of attracting students in these fields of science.”
Monika Österberg, Professor Aalto University, FinnCERES
“Researchers have a responsibility to fight against disinformation. Only by sharing genuine research results, in an understandable manner, can we ensure that young people and decision-makers alike have access to data that is based on accurate scientific knowledge.”
Tekla Tammelin, Professor, VTT, FinnCERES
The Smart Bioeconomy series contribute to the fulfilment of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 4: Quality education and 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure. Finland’s Bioeconomy strategy also encourages improving the attractiveness of education in the field by highlighting the opportunities for careers in the bioeconomy sector through communication that interest young people.