Looking after the kids: Rod MacKinnon
THROUGHOUT the course of this academic year at BGS, we're celebrating a special anniversary: the centenary of the opening of the Winterstoke Building, which houses our science labs, and whose construction marked the advent of modern science teaching at the school. Whilst BGS students had clearly engaged in some scientific study before 1913-14, the new facility really put the subject on the map.
One hundred years on, our understanding of the world has changed hugely thanks to scientific research.
Large numbers of our girls and boys are now enjoying studying science, technology or engineering subjects and pursuing careers in related industries.
As I look back over my own 30 year career as a science teacher I can honestly say that I think this is a great time to be a scientist. Believe it or not, science is cool – just look at the success of Science Britannica! This was not always the case: there have certainly been times when I have despaired at the way we scientists have managed to take the magic out of the subject. But I think we're now recovering the sort of awe and wonder once reserved only for the arts.
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Want to see pre-history? Look at the night sky and consider the sheer age of the starlight you observe. Want to study the finest feats of design and creativity? Just study the structure of DNA or the amazing artefact that is the human body. Want to seek solutions to world problems such as famine or drought? Science will feed the world.
Furthermore, if you want to make the less romantic but nonetheless significant commercial arguments, then the future of our economy will be found in science too. Like it or not, we will no longer dig our income as a nation out of the ground, nor will the service industries, in my view, be sustainable in the long term. Instead, we will derive our revenue from the huge reserves of intellectual capital that we nurture and export to the world as market leaders. Need I say more than Bloodhound, masterminded here in our own city?
My forebears some 100 years ago could clearly see its potential. I share their vision and excitement for a subject with such power to inspire and equip young minds.
Rod MacKinnon is headmaster of Bristol Grammar School