21 July 2008

Government calls on society to have its say on science: we say 'Build a new HMS Beagle.'

A press release from the Department of Universities, Innovation and Skills:
"Promoting public engagement on increasingly complex science issues and encouraging more people to choose science as a career are the key issues to be tackled by a consultation starting today."
How is this to done?
"The consultation to develop a Science and Society Strategy was launched by the Minister for Science and Innovation, Ian Pearson at Thinktank in the Birmingham Science Museum. The initiative aims to capture a range of views from the general public, scientists, businesses, media, education and government."
Sound of cracking knuckles and flexing fingers at Beagle Project central.

Dear Minister,

Your science and society consultation wishes to:

* Improve communication, generate interest, increase participation and convey the relevance of science;

* Build trust and confidence in scientific research in the public and private sectors; and

* Inspire young people from diverse backgrounds to become tomorrow's skilled scientists.

My input: help us build a new HMS Beagle in 2009. The build will be a focus for media and public interest in the Darwin bicentenary year of 2009, she will be launched in 2010, sailed by everyone from GCSE science students to practising science professionals. She will be equipped with webcams and satellte communications, her job will be to show young people exciting science as she visits Darwin's landfalls and crosses oceans.

She will apply the tools of modern science to the 170 year old work done by Darwin and Robert Fitzroy, she will visit many sites now suffering climate change and give young scientists eyes-on experience of its effects. Beagle will have a few hundreds of young people on its decks during its 20 year life, but their science, their exploration, their discoveries, their work side by side with practising scientists will be accessible to anyone online. And she will celebrate the days when brave young men with open minds went into uncharted waters (oceanographically and intellectually) and made new sciences, new displiclines that we today take for granted.

As Charles Darwin wrote: 'The voyage of the Beagle has been the most important event in my life and has determined my whole career.' We have seen what happens when young minds meet exciting science outreach, and willingness to learn when they get on the decks of a square rigger. We believe a replica Beagle, built in 2009, sailing the world for 20 years afterwards, launched with the express intention of involving young minds in science would be a great result for science and society.

Give us a hand Mr Pearson, we need £5 million to build her. Then when the new Beagle sails into the Galapagos with British schoolchildren (alongside others) on its decks, watched by millions online and on TV you'll be able to say 'we made that happen.'

Peter McGrath, director the HMS Beagle Trust.


Karen James said...

Wild applause.


Peter Mc said...

I did submit it to the consultation website.

Karen James said...

Ohh, I feel a letter writing campaign coming on! Let's get our supporters to write a barrage of letters to the site in support of the Beagle Project! We can post yours as a form letter if people want to copy and paste...

caphornier said...

HMS Beagle replica should join the Bicentenary Regatta 2010, organized by both Chilean & Argentine Navies to commemorate their Independencies (1810-2010). A splendid oportunity to navigate around Cap Horn, as FitzRoy and Darwin did. Further info: http://www.armada.cl/p4_armada/site/artic/20080227/pags/20080227104422.html

Mike Haubrich, FCD said...

I'll send a letter. Will it have any weight coming from an American?