In 2009, a Government Revitalization Unit was set up to review
and, where appropriate, make budgetary reductions to government-funded programs and operations. The state of Japan’s science and
technology and of ways to enhance it were subject to this review.
The process spotlighted the need to cultivate public awareness as to
the importance of scientific research. Much of the research conducted
in Japan is supported by funding from the national treasury,
so it requires public support and understanding to be advanced successfully.
To that end, research organizations and individual researchers
will need even more than before to convey information on
their research undertakings and results to the public. In short,
greater outreach efforts will be expected of them.
JSPS’s mission is to advance scientific research. Whereas JSPS
carries out a wide range of research-support activities, it was several
years ago that it recognized the importance of outreach activities to
disseminate information on research and its results to society. For
this purpose, JSPS has introduced outreach activities targeted to
younger generations of Japanese into its program lineup. Centerpieced
among them are the “Science Dialogue Program” and the
program “Welcome to a University Research Lab―Science That
Inspires and Inspirits (HIRAMEKI☆TOKIMEKI SCIENCE).”
These programs not only support outreach activities conducted by
researchers but also serve to foster from an early age young researchers
who will go on to pioneer new scientific frontiers.
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
from around the world volunteer to participate in this program.
Their lectures, given in English about their research and home
countries, stimulate the students to study science by kindling within
them an interest in research, while giving them widened international
At the same time, the program gives the JSPS fellows an opportunity
to interact with the local community and strengthen their ties
with the Japanese people. Afterwards, the fellows say that they
enjoyed the chance it gave them to share their research and zest for
the work with Japanese students and to act as representatives of their
countries in introducing the students to their cultures and societies.
Highly appraised by fellows, students and teachers alike, the Science
Dialogue Program has from its establishment in FY 2004 received
increasingly more requests each year from high schools for lectures.
Altogether, 340 lectures have been held through March 2010.
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 website at
The Science Dialogue lectures conducted during the period from
July through September 2010 are introduced on pages 12-13.
Dr. Md. Shamim Akhter
(Host institution: Research Organization of Information and Systems)
Lecture at Kumamoto Prefectural Daini High School
On 14 September 2010
As a JSPS fellow, I took part in the Science Dialogue Program
and presented a one-hour lecture to first- and third-grade students
at Kumamoto Prefectural Daini High School. It was
really a great experience and reminded me of my own school
days in Bangladesh. I was very happy to visit such a nice high
school and felt good to have the opportunity to introduce my
country and research to the younger generation of Japanese.
In my lecture, I described my country Bangladesh, its culture,
national symbols, attractions, and my home institute American
International University Bangladesh. I also explained my
research on “helping agriculture activities using information
technologies and remote sensing” among other topics I’m
working on. I concluded by introducing my family in Japan.
The class atmosphere was friendly and students were eager to learn. At the very beginning, I told the students that they were free to ask me questions at any time during the lecture—that I’d be happy to pause if they felt confusion or curiosity about anything. I took breaks from time to time and asked the students questions to verify whether they were on the right track.
At the start of my lecture, the students were a bit shy about
asking questions, but warmed up quickly as I interacted with
them. I had asked my Japanese colleague Mr. Fujiwara to accompany
me as a translator. Sometimes when I asked questions
in English, the students would struggle to understand and
looked perplexed. When Mr. Fujiwara translated them, they
would suddenly be all smiles!
The students asked me several questions, especially regarding
satellite images, agri-crop models, and genetic algorithms. I
was a bit surprised at the level of some of their questions on
satellite image processing, resolution, and color combinations. I
learned later that they had visited the Japan Aerospace Exploration
Agency (JAXA) a few weeks prior, where they had done a
good job learning about satellite imaging.
In truth, I found it relatively difficult to give a speech in front of
people who have little knowledge about my research subject,
especially as it involves a lot of scientific terms and technical
details. This lecture helped me to improve my presentation
skills when communicating with such people. For it, I prepared
slides with informative pictures rather than texts, spoke slowly,
and focused on a global view of the research rather than on
methodological matters. I can now make my presentations
simpler yet still informative when the need arises to do so in the
future. All in all, my Science Dialogue experience proved fulfilling in a variety of ways.
Ms. Kyoko Yamamura
Shizuoka Prefectural Iwata Minami High School
With JSPS’s cooperation, our school has been participating in
the Science Dialogue Program since FY 2005. During this
period, I have been in charge of implementing the program
over the past three years. I’ve felt that the typical response of
ordinary Japanese to communicating with people of other
countries is: Foreigner→English→Can’t understand→Can’t
talk→Maintain respectful distance. As I science teacher myself,
observing the natural manner in which the Science Dialogue
lecturers conducted their sessions, it has become painfully clear
to me that smooth scientific exchange is not possible without
an ability to speak English. Nevertheless, I find myself shamelessly
relying upon audacity when trying to communicate
with the lecturers using what I’m sure must be very awkward
English. I believe, however, that the students seeing me
plugging away with English encourages them to use English
without feeling bashful.
From my experience with this program, I believe that there are
three particularly significant merits to students receiving lectures
directly from overseas researchers. First, it makes the students
aware that scientific research is advanced through international
exchange. Next, the students can see that researchers
speak and communicate in various dialects of English, not only
in the kind of native English they are used to hearing in the
classroom. Last, the sense of uneasiness that students feel when
not being able to understand everything spoken by the lecturer
can spur them to study English more diligently.
Among the impressions voiced by the students after the lectures,
most said that they were able to understand them because
the lecturers were kind enough to speak slowly and use many
diagrams, pictures and samples. After each time a lecture has
been given, virtually all of the students felt an urgent need to
learn English. Some have even said they wish such courses as
math and physics could be taught in English.
Given its many benefits, our school looks forward to continue
taking advantage of the Science Dialogue Program in the
future as well.
Welcome to a University Research Lab―Science That Inspires and Inspirits
Launched in FY 2005, this program is aimed at today’s students
who will become tomorrow’s scientists. Under it, university researchers
who are carrying out projects with Grants-in-Aid for
Scientific Research explain their work and its results in an easily
understood manner to groups of mainly secondary school students
who visit their labs. By providing an opportunity for the students to
learn about the meaning of science and the role it plays in their
daily lives, the program seeks to stimulate intellectual curiosity and
creativity in them. It also demonstrates to them the value of science
within both culture and society―the program’s ultimate aim being
to promote multigenerationally sustained advancement of scientific
endeavor in Japan.
The program’s steering committee selects the lecture providers from
among openly recruited applicants. The program, itself, is carried
out collaboratively between JSPS and the implementing universities.
In the 2010 fiscal year, 205 lectures have or will be held at
120 universities and research institutions.
Universities throughout Japan prepare their own uniquely tailored
lecture programs, to which interested students in the local area
are invited to attend. For more information on this program, see
Lecture at Hokkaido University
By Dr. Yoichiro Hoshino (assistant professor in Field Science Center for Northern Biosphere)
On 31 July 2010
Conducted on a farm run by Hokkaido University, 26 junior
high school students attended this interactive lecture on the
selective breeding of berries. To give the students a sense of the
various kinds of berries, they first gathered blueberries, bearberry
honeysuckles, raspberries, black currants and other berries.
From this exercise, they learned that there are a wide variety
of berries and that each tastes differently. They were also
able to actually see berries growing on the bush whose names,
like “currant,” they had only known.
Next, the students performed an experiment to cross-fertilize
raspberries and blackberries. The new variety of berries they
hybridized where put into pollination bags with the students’
names on them and later mailed to their homes.
Last on the agenda, the latest technologies used in the selective
breeding of plants were introduced to the students via a video
and slide presentation. Afterwards, the students observed in the
lab pollen germination to give them an understanding of the
fertilization process and, then, performed an experiment in the
field to measure the sugar content and pH of fruits.
Lecture at Tokai University
By Dr. Kunio Kutsuwada (professor in School of Marine Science and Technology)
On 3 October 2010
A workshop was conducted aboard the ship Bousei Maru, attended by 22 junior high school students and 13 accompanying parents and teachers. Experiments were carried out to answer such questions as why the sea is blue and salty. Using a variety of instruments on board the ship, such mysteries of the sea were explored by analyzing and observing samples taken from the water.
The activity started by showing the students the ship’s pilothouse,
engine room, and the instruments used in conducting
oceanographic experiments. Next, experiments were conducted
together with the students. The temperature of the seawater was
taken and its salt content measured. Sea currents were studied
using a tub, and water pressure was observed by deformation
of styrofoam cups and cans lowered to various depths. Then,
plankton was collected using a specially designed net and the
captured specimens examined under a microscope. Lastly, the
data obtained through these measurements and observations
were compiled, and the students entered them in the textbooks
they had been given.