JSPS Quarterly
No.22 2007 Winter Topics
JSPS's Scientific Outreach

To establish a comprehensive policy for implementing the government's strategy to make Japan a nation rooted in S&T creativity, a series of Science and Technology Basic Plans have been enacted. The most recent third Plan sets as a policy priority the fostering of researchers and technicians who will shoulder the next generation of S&T advances in Japan. It calls for outreach activities by researchers; that is, for Japan's research community to make a more concerted effort to disseminate scientific information to society.

Of particular concern is the tendency in Japan for junior and senior high school students to shy away from math and science studies. To curb this trend, proactive, not passive, measures will need to be taken to foster a passionate interest in young people for scientific exploration and discovery.

To promote scientific research, JSPS carries out a wide range of research-support activities. As a funding agency, it has also in recent years launched programs to disseminate to the public research results along with information on programs to advance them.

This article describes two such outreach programs, both aimed at secondary school students. They are JSPS's "Science Dialogue Program" and its program "Welcome to a University Research Lab—Science That Inspires and Inspirits (HIRAMEKI TOKIMEKI Science)."

Science Dialogue

This program provides JSPS fellows with opportunities to give lectures on their research work at high schools in the vicinity of their Japanese host institutions. These talented young scientists volunteer to participate in this program. Their lectures are expected to stimulate the students' interest in research, while widening their international perspectives through interaction with the fellows.

Lectures are normally given in English. However, to enhance communications with the students, fellows may bring their host researcher or Japanese colleague with them to the school to provide commentary in Japanese.

Established in 2004, the program has year upon year received increasingly more requests from high schools for lectures. In the 2007 fiscal year, 129 lectures were held or scheduled.

JSPS fellows who have participated as lecturers in the program say the experience was a rewarding one. They enjoyed the chance it gave them to share information on their research and their zest for the work with the Japanese students and to act as representatives of their countries in introducing the students to their respective cultures and societies.

JSPS continuously recruits both fellows and high school faculties who would like to participate in the Science Dialogue Program.

For more detailed information on the program, please visit its site at http://www.jsps.go.jp/english/e-plaza/e-sdialogue/

Lecture Examples

Lecture at Wakayama Prefectural Koyo High School
By Dr. Sebastien Lemire (France), Osaka University
On 18 October 2007

Lecture at Wakayama Prefectural Koyo High School
Fellow and students culturing phages and intestinal bacteria

Dr. Lemire gave a lecture titled "An Introduction on Bacteriophages—Bacterial Viruses" to about 80 freshman students studying math and science. First, he introduced the students to France's geography, language, culture, sports and education system. He then told them about his research on phages (bacteriophages), viruses which live and multiply within bacteria. He explained the results obtained by past researchers, and described the structure of phages; how they infect intestinal bacteria; their effect in cheese production; and how they are used in medicine.

During the lecture, Dr. Lemire enunciated his words clearly to make his English easy for the students to understand. Also to aid their understanding, he used slides and experiments; inserted several question times into his lecture, and had a graduate student from his lab provide commentary in Japanese.

Lecture at Shizuoka Kita High School
By Dr. Daniel T. D. Jeans (UK), Kobe University
On 22 October 2007

Lecture at Shizuoka Kita High School

Dr. Jeans delivered a lecture titled "What Are the Smallest Objects, and What Do They Do? Particle Physics and the International Linear Collider" to 40 sophomore students studying math and science. After introducing himself, Dr. Jeans explained to the students just how small particles are and told them about future prospects for new discovery using the forthcoming linear collider. He also told them about the Royal Observatory in Greenwich and various museums in England.

To facilitate the students' understanding, Dr. Jeans used simple language and a lot of slides. He also gave the students advanced study material to familiarize themselves with the subject and related vocabulary before the lecture. He was accompanied by his host Prof. Kiyotomo Kawagoe, who provided a brief commentary on each slide in Japanese. With perked interest, the students asked many questions, such as "What will be the impact of this research in the future?" In reply, Dr. Jeans said it was uncertain how this research will unfold but that it would impact future research just as scientific advances over the past century have an impact on today's research. Understanding particles, he said, opens the door to understanding the universe.

This was the first time for Shizuoka Kita High School to participate in the Science Dialogue Program; right away they have applied for a second lecture. Excited about going another round, Dr. Jeans says that he will conduct experiments next time to kindle an even more burning interest in the students.

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JSPS Quarterly No.22 2007