MEASURES TO COPE WITH THE YOUTH’S LOST INTEREST IN SCIENCE - CASE IN AKASHI KOSEN -
Akashi National College of Technology (JAPAN)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2011 Proceedings
Publication year: 2011
Conference name: 4th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 14-16 November, 2011
Location: Madrid, Spain
Abstract:These days, we often hear about young people’s trend away from scientific interests and the industrial world’s current lack of skilled workers, saying in other words a trend away from technology. Data from Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) by Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) provide significant proof of this trend. Japanese schoolchildren’s grades in mathematics and science rank top in the world, but their scientific interests are near the lowest level. According to surveys children gave very negative answers to the following questions. “Do you like science?” “Is science useful in our daily lives?” “Do you hope to work as an engineer in the future?” The Japanese government regards this as a serious issue. As a national strategy, the government presumes that science and technology is the founding of our nation because Japan is scarce in natural resources. Therefore, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) has utilized Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) as the practical promotion center to support many projects for schoolchildren, for example, science partnership project (SPP), super science high school (SSH), development of digital teaching materials and a cutting-edge science museum.
Let’s introduce how projects of JST were applied in educational scenes, using a report from Akashi campus of the Institute of National Colleges of Technology (NCT). First, a little background of NCT. Combining the programs of high school and junior college, it offers five-year engineering education 15 years. NCT campuses were established in 1961, in response to a strong demand from the industrial sector to foster engineers who sustained the high Japanese economic growth at that time. In 2011, there are 51 campuses throughout Japan. Approximately 310,000 students have graduated. Youths’ lost interest in science causes a decrease in applicants for NCT. As a result, in some campuses of NCT the number of applicants fell a little short of the full number required. Therefore, NCT is making efforts for junior high schoolchildren, as follows: At explanatory meeting for teachers or students with parents NCT offers souvenir like a pencil, guest lectures from NCT professors at junior high schools, open campus with mini experiments, robot day for children, working week at NCT and free public lectures. But for NCT, the most important action is to enrich students’ campus lives. NCT takes JST’s help to foster students’ interest in science through SPP, science camps, many contests like robot, programing, chopstick-bridge and so on. Through these experiments, many students of Akashi campus of NCT (ANCT) began to change their consciousness of science. Some students could have clear future visions.
Now, there is a joint movement with the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) to reinforce these projects. We can expect that these activities will extend even to the public and that Japanese technology will continue to improve and change our lifestyles.
Keywords: Youth, science, institute of national colleges of technology.