The project enhances scientists’ engagement with school students aged 11 -15 through magazine-based activities, as well as offers young readers opportunities to approach science in an engaging way.
Since 2014 the Schools Engagement Programme (SEP) has collaborated with the teen magazine Khan Quang Do to publish a weekly science page and other magazine-based science activities for secondary students in Ho Chi Minh City and provinces. The weekly magazines are sent directly to most secondary schools in the central and southern Vietnam with an estimated distribution of 80,000 copies per week.
Many Vietnamese students consider science as boring, with all their knowledge coming from lecture-style lessons and textbooks. We hope that a colourful and engaging science magazine page will change their perceptions about science. Through the weekly science page schools students are introduced to scientiﬁc information delivered in a positive and relevant way. Through a once a month ‘Ask the Scientist’ page young people can ask questions about science and get answers from local scientists, thus introducing them to role models in science. This science page also creates an opportunity for scientists to learn how to explain their research to a non-academic audience – a very important, but often overlooked, communication skill for scientists. The annual science competition is a further opportunity for young people to engage directly with scientists and researchers.
What we do
Weekly science articles
Scientists from OUCRU and other local institutes are invited to write articles for school students. We recruit writers through OUCRU academic meetings, our FaceBook page and newsletters. Scientists are encouraged to write about their research and their personal interests so that the topics have ranged from natural science subjects like great white sharks, beetles and dinosaurs; to more biomedical subjects such as dengue and viruses; to more locally relevant environmental issues such as rhino horns and single use plastics.
Annual science competition
In partnership with the magazine we hold a national science competition. It features a 5-week online contest, a more participatory semi-ﬁnal, and then a face to face ﬁnal round for the top 50 contestants. Secondary school students from Ho Chi Minh City and neighbouring provinces are eligible to join.
Monthly Q & A section
A panel of 5 OUCRU scientists are invited to join a panel for 12 months to answer scientiﬁc questions from students. A selection of questions and their answers are published every month. We also give an introduction to the panel so that the students can get acquainted with them before asking questions. Students who are active in this section will be rewarded with small gifts.
Capacity building for scientists
We hold an annual workshop in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City for researchers from OUCRU and other universities, to build their capacity in writing for a non-academic audience, and in particular writing for children. We have also designed a booklet ‘Guidelines for writing about science for children’, as well as provide opportunities for exchanging experiences with the editor of Khan Quang Do magazine.
- 119 Science articles have been published on medicine, health, biology, human, animal, wildlife and other science topics from 2014 – 2017;
- 65 Researchers involved in writing for the page from 2014 – 2017;
- 69 Questions from students were answered from 2014 – 2017;
- 3 Science competitions were organised with the participation of 86,340 students and 15 scientists in 2016 and 2017.