The theme of the reception for 2011 was Public Engagement in Science (PES)
A recent, independent report commissioned by DBIS showed that visiting zoos was the most popular, frequent and accessible science engagement activity amongst the general public.
Why is public engagement in science important?
- Because the UK economy is fundamentally underpinned by advances in science and technology
- Because our mutual future prosperity depends on a constant and flexible supply of physicists, biologists, engineers, mathematicians, chemists, etc.
- Because democratic participation in a growing number of vital, complex political, social and ethical issues (e.g. GM crops, nuclear energy, stem cell research, etc.) require a scientifically literate public
- Because our leading research universities need public facing partners to engage the public in their vital work
Why do zoos, aquaria and safari parks have a special offer in this area?
- Because the demographic accessed by BIAZA and its members is both huge over 25 million in 2009 and uniquely socially inclusive. Nearly every UK child passes through the zoo portals at an early formative point. The zoo visit provides a relaxed, lengthy, family occasion for informal science learning impacting on all elements of society
- Because the visceral, genetically imprinted appeal of wildlife provides a ‘sticky’ and immediately attractive subject and obvious jump off point for science discussion
- Because scientific themes implicit in the zoological material are not limited to the biological, but involve underlying principles of chemistry, physics, mathematics, engineering, design, technology, psychology, etc
- Because in addition to informal science engagement, most zoos operate formal educatio departments, fielding some 450 professional teachers and other educators and delivering organised session to over 1.2 million people per year