Representation in science is imperative for creating solutions that are reflective of the diversity within communities. Young people represent a generation of innovative thinkers, whose voices add value to the global science community, however, are unfortunately not always heard.
“There’s a fallacy that because science is objective, it’s completely devoid of our input and the reality is, we are reflected in the science that we do. If it’s the same types of people doing science, you miss out on different kinds of perspectives and the kinds of science that we can do.” – Dr Tolullah Oni
Throughout the two weeks at the 61st London Youth International Science Forum (LIYSF), 500 young people between the ages of 16-21, representing 75 different countries and territories had the opportunity to immerse themselves in the world of science and technology. More importantly, they were encouraged to engage and be part of the conversation inspired by distinguished and world class scientists in the likes of Professor Sir Nigel Shadbolt and Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell.
LIYSF created an intentional space for young people to ask questions from leaders in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) industry, engage in discussions on the current state of cyber security and present their own innovative research and solutions to global problems.
The 2019 LIYSF ‘Famelab style’ presentation was one such event where eleven participants were selected by expert judges from the Science Bazaar to present their research in front of the entire forum with a time restriction of 3 minutes each. Collectively, the presenters addressed a range of current global issues, with each providing creative solutions grounded in varying disciplines of science and technology.
Wendy Sadler, Physicist and Director of ‘Science Made Simple, was a co-host at the LIYSF FameLab, and highlighted how “science takes everyday things and helps us see it in a different light,” much like how the inclusion of young people in the science community can give way to novel innovative solutions.
2019 LIYSF Famelab presenters at the Ojannte Theatre, Royal Geographical Society, London
There are many challenges and barriers that exist for young people wanting to engage in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths). We often hear the phrase ‘young people are the future leaders of tomorrow.’ An expression that is meant to be inspiring, however, can also be used to take away from the voices of our young people today.
Recognising and creating a space for young people to be part of the conversations around global issues within the scientific community is not only important for shaping our future leaders, but encouraging diversity and innovation in science and technology today.
In the words of Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, “Science needs good supply of young people coming through, it’s an important subject for the health and wealth of a country. So it’s important that young people get some exposure to what the opportunities in science are.”
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