Thursday, 21 March 2013

Bringing Science to Life

Science is how we make sense of the world around us: learning more about science is learning more about ourselves, about why things are the way they are and how we can change the things we need to change.

If you’re interested in studying science then a great place to start is with NEC’s combined science IGCSE, which is one of our most popular GCSE-level courses.

It’s an innovative, comprehensive and challenging course, making use of a range of different styles of learning to teach you about the three core sciences: physics, chemistry and biology. To help bring your learning to life you’ll carry out a number of simple experiments, each of which can be done around the house, and watch animations showing you the results of other experiments.

The materials are packed full of charts, photos and diagrams, and you’ll also complete online quizzes that test your progress, alongside tutor-marked assignments. Combined science covers an astounding breadth of topics, from atomic structure and osmosis to how to wire a plug and interpret your electricity bill.

Our unique course was written by a Cambridge University scientist especially for distance learning; it’s a perfect example of how what might initially appear to be too practical a subject can be made to work for home study.

And if you still think science and distance learning are mutually exclusive, you might want to check out our partner the Open University’s OpenScience laboratory: this fascinating initiative is transporting science from the laboratory to the living room like never before.

Another great project that’s been raising the profile of science is Cambridge University’s annual Science Festival, which draws to a close this week.

The festival is completely free and sees more than 200 events taking place at locations across the city. So far this year there have been talks on topics as diverse as the price of pharmaceuticals, the positive qualities of psychopathy and the ethical implications of taking tablets that improve your cognitive abilities. There have been workshops and demonstrations; even a night of stand-up comedy from Cambridge University fellows and researchers!

The core aim of the festival is to bring science to the people: to make scientific concepts and developments relevant to everyday situations and provide the public with direct access to some of the people right at the heart of scientific progress.

As Benedict Cumberbatch, the guest director of this year’s festival, said in his introduction: ‘Whether it’s fighting disease on a cellular scale, tackling climate change, solving food and energy crises, exploring the outer regions of the universe or simply making it easier to shop online – science and technology play an increasingly integral part of our daily lives.

‘And yet to the layperson like me, the intellectual and ethical complexities and technical detail can often seem daunting and distancing. Hence a festival of this range and accessibility is a hugely important bridge between the public and science.’

If you can get to Cambridge, the Science Festival runs until this Sunday, 24 March.

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