Minerva Scientifica – British Science Week

Kids wih Mask

Is a week long enough to celebrate what our scientists have achieved?

If I have learnt anything from working on Minerva Scientifica it is that science is not separate from life, it is with us every day  – but somehow we don’t quite acknowledge it’s influence. But just as music is part of us – something we would all recognise – so is science, and we need to celebrate, investigate, question and engage with it every day of the year.

Today, over 100 young people, taking part in this British Science Week flagship education event explained to us how science and music can work together to the mutual benefit of both disciplines:

There were singing chimpanzees wondering why their DNA hadn’t gone the same way as humans; Bees buzzing about how they use honeycomb and their own bodies to make sound; Owls hooting and trying to turn their heads 360o ; Beat Boxing Molluscs; and a beautiful exposition of the patterns and symmetry of DNA.

Their efforts were followed by questions to an array of scientists from King’s College London and composer Shirley J Thompson.

Scientist Panel 2

They had come to listen to the work carried out by three Islington schools, Pakeman and Yerbury Primary’s and Arts & Media School Islington, over the course of only a few weeks, tracing the course of their own journeys into DNA, science and of course Minerva Scientifica and “The Franklin Effect”.

Questions from the students aged 8 – 13 years – included one about identical twins – why do they have different voices if their DNA is identical? The answer to this and others  reflected the depth of inquiry in all the questions  – in this case nature, nurture, physical and psychological factors came into play, not to mention the complexity of DNA which could allow for some differences.

“What is the purpose of science?” asked one of our young participants….. a question that perhaps we should all be asking at a time when our future depends so much on its outcomes.

And music?Audience Warm Up 3

What is the purpose of music? I think for all of us there is a different answer – in my case it would be it’s ability to inspire, to uplift, to challenge and delight, and to provide a way of communicating that goes beyond words, and yes, I think our future depends on it just as much as on science. A message that I hope will percolate in the corridors of power as they consider the future of education in this country.


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