MPs quizzed by young scientists at Voice of the Future 2012
Yesterday young scientists and engineers visited the House of Commons to take part in a unique science question time. Rt. Hon David Willetts MP, Chi Onwurah MP, Andrew Miller MP and members of the Science and Technology Select Committee were quizzed by young people in the first event of its kind.
Questions ranged from dealing with differing opinions between scientists and the public to ensuring gender equality in science, and they were asked by school pupils, school teachers, university students and scientists. The Speaker of the House of Commons, Rt. Hon John Bercow MP, opened the session with remarks about the pertinence and value of the event.
Voice of the Future was organised by the Society of Biology. Its Chief Executive, Dr Mark Downs, says: “Voice of the Future gave young scientists the chance to raise the profile of important research areas. The MPs were keen to stress the importance of the advice they receive from scientists, and we believe that bringing young people into contact with MPs was a valuable opportunity for them to get involved with science policy.”
Sixth form students were amongst those asking questions, and many took the opportunity to bring up education issues. Ideas suggested by the select committee for improving science in schools included encouraging more scientists to become teachers, particularly at primary level, diversifying computer science education by using open-source software, and greater practical work facilitated by links with universities.
The future of British science in times of economic hardship was a theme to many questions. Our broad expertise in all the sciences and the collaborations this enables was put forward by MPs as a key way British science can hold its own. Inspiring the brightest young people to become scientists was agreed to be essential to our success.
Questions about the future of genetic engineering triggered interesting answers, with members of the Committee keen to re-open the debate of the pros and cons.
Dr Downs says: “Voice of the Future is a unique opportunity for young people to visit Parliament and hear MPs’ views on issues that are important to them. There were some very insightful questions which displayed young people’s passion for science and their engagement with political issues.”< Back