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Issue Date:- 26 May 2008

Bring science alive to grab young people’s interest

IF we are to engage and inspire young people with science, it is important that they find it exciting, interesting and relevant, argues Roland Jackson, Chief Executive of the BA (British Association for the Advancement of Science.  A recent study in which only 10% of young people said they considered science a good career choice for them highlights how important this is if the UK is to continue to produce good quality science graduates.   "At the BA, we are always working with scientists and education specialists to ensure that the activities we provide bring science alive for children and young people.  We want to share the wow factor that science has to offer and ignite the huge enthusiasm that children demonstrate when something captures their imagination." says Dr Jackson.

Dr Jackson’s comments coincide with the launch of the programme of young people’s activities at the BA Festival of Science, which will take place at the University of Liverpool and across the city from 6 September to 11 September 2008.  The programme is currently being delivered to schools and events are expected to book up quickly.    A wide variety of hands-on demonstrations and workshops are on offer, from Bending it like Beckham(where students can learn why David Beckham is not just a footballing genius but a scientific one, and have the opportunity to try to replicate his killer free kicks), toBiobubble(the UK’s largest cell that helps students shrink themselves half a million times and see what goes on inside us).  Older students can also join TV science presenter Jonathan Hare to find out how realistic the science behind some of Hollywood’s classic movies and stunts is.  In addition, there are a number of events that give young people the opportunity to speak to scientists about what matters to them.  Topics for these BAckchatsessions include looking at the human impact on marine biodiversity; whether and how individual efforts to help the environment work; and the impact of computer games, both educational and recreational, on the capacity to learn.  It is hoped that bringing students into contact with practising scientists, giving them the chance to share their views, and showing that science and engineering impact on such a wide range of things relevant to them, will help improve the perception among young people that science and engineering is a good career option for them.  A recent survey Public Attitudes to Science 2008 commissioned by the Research Councils UK and the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) indicated that while 16 to 24 year olds were amazed by the achievements of science, only 1 in 10 said science would make a good career choice.   All schools in Greater Merseyside, Greater Manchester, Cheshire and Warrington and other areas of the North West will receive a copy of the programme through the post.  If you do not receive one, please email them.  Alternatively, it is available to download from,  where you will also find information about the programme of events for adults and families.  The BA Festival of Science will take place in Liverpool from 6 September to 11 September 2008, bringing over 350 of the UK’s top scientists to discuss the latest developments in science with the public.  In addition to talks and debates at the University of Liverpool, there will be a host of events happening throughout the city as part of the European Capital of Culture celebrations.

This year’s BA Festival of Science is organised in partnership with the University of Liverpool.  It is supported by the Department for Innovation, Universities & Skills, the Liverpool Culture Company and the Northwest Regional Development Agency.  The Schools’ programme is coordinated by SETPOINT Greater Merseyside, Cheshire and Warrington.


ACCORDING to new figures from The Stroke Association, a staggering 88% of stroke survivors in England are left unsupported and isolated in the community.

Aphasia is one of the most common disabilities following a stroke, affecting one's ability to speak and understand language.

The charity estimates that at least 1/3rd of stroke survivors are currently living with aphasia; literally "living in a silence", frightened, frustrated and isolated, unable to speak or understand language.

Joe Korner, Director of External Affairs for The Stroke Association explains:- "We all need to communicate.  Whether it's through speaking, a hand gesture or the blink of an eye, the ability to interact with others is crucial.

The loss of these basic skills can leave stroke survivors feeling imprisoned and depressed."

The Stroke Association's new report, Lost without Words looks at the devastating effects of aphasia for stroke survivors.  These can include loss of confidence and independence and can lead to depression.

The report highlights the alarmingly low levels of awareness among the public, health professionals and key decision makers in health and social care policy.

Importantly, the study also found that stroke survivors who received long term communication support via a group setting reported a better recovery and huge personal achievements.  It concluded that these groups enable stroke survivors to develop new strategies to replace lost communication skills, continue to improve and maintain these skills and facilitated social interaction preventing depression and isolation.  The groups also provided respite for carers.

The Lost without Words report calls on Primary Care Trusts to:-

Θ Carry out an audit into the incidence of people with stroke-related communication disabilities so that the right levels of support can be planned and delivered.

Θ Establish clear referral procedures into Communication Support Services via multi-disciplinary community stroke team. 

Θ Commit to communication support becoming an integral part of the stroke care pathway.

Θ Ensure where appropriate that clients of Speech and Language Therapists are referred to a Communication Support Service.

Θ Monitor closely the stroke survivor's needs through regular reviews at the six-week discharge, the first six months and then every year thereafter.

Joe Korner concludes:- "As our report shows, with the right support stroke survivors are able to have a good quality of life and play an active role in society.

The benefits are not only a cost-saving to our healthcare system; they are a basic human right for every individual."

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