The importance of science and technology is gaining mainstream attention.
The ongoing war in Europe and the supply issues related to semiconductor chips have created awareness among different governments to increase support for R and D.
Today, March 6, 2023, when the United Kingdom unveiled its Science and Technology Framework-2030, it was refreshing to interact with a group of 5th-grade students at Roscoe Wilson Elementary School, in Lubbock, USA on the research for saving the planet.
Six 5th-grade students under the direction of Ms. Keegan Rodriguez are working on a science exhibition project to showcase the negative impacts of plastic pollution. While researching the subject, our research on cotton as an alternative to absorbing toxic oil caught their attention, and wanted to interact with me to gain more information.
The young students have prepared important questions on the need for sustainable materials as substitutes for plastic materials to protect the environment. As part of the 20 minutes interaction, it was heartening to note that the questions focused on the motivation of the research, commercialization of technology, etc.
Conall Bates, a 5th-grade student whose family farms in Hereford, TX asked to explain how cotton is advantageous compared to synthetic materials in absorbing oil. Such questions clearly point to the fact that the students and the community in the High Plains of Texas are well connected with industries such as cotton, oil, and farming.
It is important that research carried out in academia has a translational impact and serves society and the whole world.
Schools such as those in Lubbock Independent School District are doing their best to cultivate interest in S & T in young children, which is the need of the hour. The students are planning to present their study based on the interview and other research in an exhibition to be organized by the school on May 22, 2023.
Bio-based materials that can save lives and protect the environment need support from government funding agencies in addition to industry support.
Research conducted in our laboratory that is gaining attention among elementary school children and the public is indeed a good and impactful outcome.
Science is well and alive in the United States is the take-home message I got.