Wednesday 29 December 2010

Educating Rita! The Wrong Way To Inspire Young Scientists

Here’s how NOT to inspire young scientists: don’t allow government officials to talk publicly about topics that they know very little about. Granted, this is a very broad and general rule that can usually be applied to most situations involving privileged individuals who are in positions of power that are beyond their competence and comprehension.

Really Rita Lau Ng Wai-lan—Commerce and Economic Development Secretary of the Hong Kong government—do you sincerely believe that asking our students to “be more creative” and to “come up with new icons that are unmistakably Hong Kong” is the best way to motivate them?
Creative cuppa runs over for students from The Standard)

To further demonstrate her ignorance of the way science works, Rita Lau used Hong Kong’s terrible tasting Milk Tea as the prime example to encourage students to be better scientists! That is pathetic and laughable. Telling young scientists here to set up a goal of creating a money-making Hong Kong icon such as Milk Tea is like telling a young Einstein to be creative and aim to make a mega-rich German product that will rule the world! Science doesn't work like that, and nor should scientists!

[Young scientists are told to aspire to create iconic products similar to Hong Kong-style milk tea. Pic Wikipedia]

Without going into detail (here), some useful suggestions on how to inspire young scientists is to first ensure a good teaching environment (i.e. quality science teachers and teaching resources); second nurture curiosity and an enthusiasm to ask questions; and third culture an attitude where business and making money (i.e. Rita’s call to “create a new Hong Kong icon”) is not the priority and instead the emphasis should be on nurturing fun and fascination with how the natural world works.

It seems in addition to educating Hong Kong’s young scientists, educating Rita Lau is warranted too.

Creative cuppa runs over for students (The Standard)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Commerce and Economic Development Secretary Rita Lau Ng Wai-lan is calling on young scientists to be more creative and come up with products that are unmistakably Hong Kong.

Lau said although they may face many trials and failures along the way, they should aim at creating a new icon - the way that Hong Kong-style milk tea has become a popular drink.

Invited by milk-tea master Law Tak, Lau and four young scientists - Chan Yik-hei, Stephanie Yeung, Christie Lin and Chan Hoi- yee - gathered to taste Law's signature drink.

Chan Yik-hei, a fourth-year student in electronic and computer engineering at the University of Science and Technology, won an award at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in 2004.

St Paul's Convent School Form Seven student Yeung, Carmel Pak U Secondary School Form Seven student Chan Hoi-yee, and Heep Yunn School student Lin were honored at this year's Awards for Little Scientists of Tomorrow.

Lau said Hong Kong-style milk tea is unique and represents the city's culture. According to the beverage industry, local people consume one billion cups of Hong Kong-style milk tea every year.

Law, who won this year's International KamCha Competition - a milk-tea brewing competition - said the choice of tea leaves, milk, sugar, water temperature, time and blending method all affect the drink's quality.

Most importantly, the maker must be dedicated in attempting to brew the perfect cup, he said.

Lau said there are many young people in Hong Kong who want to develop a career in innovative technology. The passion is there, all they need is encouragement and support.

She said the government, through policy- making, hopes to promote and encourage them to make the best use of their creativity.

Lau said the work of scientists was similar to that of milk-tea brewers - they must endure trials and failures, yet remain innovative. If they persevere, they will succeed.


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