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Simplifying Science

Thursday, July 06, 2017 05:15 AM    Views : 965by:Aristotle P. Carandang, LPT, MPS, PhD

Of late, there have been numerous requests for us at the Science and Technology Information Institute, the information arm of the Department of Science and Technology, to conduct science simplification workshops in various regions of the country.

We at the Institute take it as a good sign that interest, or awareness at the very least, on science and technology (S&T) is starting to increase among the general population. Looking closer, students and even media practitioners seem to be eager to learn more about S&T in general and the latest developments in the country in particular.

Undoubtedly, science as a topic may be a little more difficult to understand among the general populace compared to stories about culture, entertainment, and general human interest. Making science stories more appealing to the general reading public, or even the viewing generation, is a real challenge to the handful of dedicated science journalists and communicators a rare breed, indeed.

The complication here starts on science itself. As a subject in school, this is one that is not the most well loved, together with mathematics. Only a few students, maybe those belonging to the top five percent of any class, are the only ones who truly appreciate the subject.

Can we blame the arts, the humanities if we happen to have a culture leaning towards them? Let's face it, most parents want their kids to be seen on television or the silver screen rather than being confined inside laboratories.

A welcome development is the fusion of science and the arts in various forms. It is here where innovation comes in and somehow becomes instrumental in leading S&T into the mainstream of human consciousness in the Philippines at least.

Although still in its baby steps, the DOST-STII has found ways and means to bring S&T stories closer to Filipinos. Traditional channels and the now rapidly growing social media have been tapped as vehicles of S&T information.

Print materials continue to be used as sources of new information magazines like the S&T Post (https://tinyurl.com/v8cu7y7) and newspapers deliver timely and accurate information in the more understandable language. The bigger change here is how S&T information is packaged. For instance, Balitang RapiDOST (https://tinyurl.com/rrpmbks) has consistently brought S&T information in Filipino. Bigger, still, is that some regions have made use of this monthly publication as a source of S&T information in the vernacular (https://tinyurl.com/rrpmbks). We are now really touching base with those who have always been placed in the periphery of development. What is important is that simplified S&T information is sent across to specific audiences through different media platforms.

In one of the national surveys conducted recently, we found out that television remains to be the primary source of S&T information. Although this medium remains to be the most expensive, it cannot be denied that it serves a good purpose. Of late, there has been a presence of science stories in major networks. But the more exciting development is the appearance of DOSTv (http://www.dostv.ph) that delivers science for the people which is now on mainstream TV. It carries S&T information and airs science documentaries that have truly touched the lives of the most ordinary Filipinos. Originally on the web, DOSTv has started to broadcast over PTV 4, Monday to Friday, 9 am; and on GNN cable TV at 11 am and 4 pm daily.

Perhaps, one medium that could easily escape from the mind of everyone is radio as far as science stories are concerned. The creative people from DOST-STII tapped radio as a major source or S&T information. Well, this does not include the news that may appear from time to time in some of the news segments but he novelty that is drama. Yes, it has created its own following since S&T stories have been dramatized via RadyoHenyo every Sunday at 5:00 pm over DZRH dubbed "Handog ng Agham para sa Bayan"( https://tinyurl.com/w4lgjs8). It had a very successful first season that lasted until mid-January of this year and airing for the second season started on 25 June 2017 and will continue up to the third.   

And today, the most pervasive medium is the social media especially among the young and those in the highly urbanized cities. The more popular social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. have also become platforms for information dissemination. We cannot ignore the fast growing popularity of social media; and the millennials that are hooked into them as they comprise about 47.1% percent of our workforce (as of 2015); and they will continue to grow in the years to come making them the dominant age group.

Our social media sites on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/dost.stii/, https://www.facebook.com/STIILibrary/), https://www.facebook.com/StarbooksPH/, https://www.facebook.com/DOSTvPH/, etc), Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/dost_stii/), Twitter (https://twitter.com/stiidostph), Youtube (https://www.youtube.com/user/dostvideos), and others aim to reach out to netizens of all ages and socio-economic brackets.   

Through these channels, we at the DOST-STII have been silently working to reach out to more individuals and groups for them to become aware, at the very least, of the developments in the realm of S&T. And then maybe, just maybe, that in the days to come, more and more Filipinos will start to appreciate and understand the importance of S&T in their daily lives so that they can be engaged.

We pray that we can see the fruits of efforts in simplifying science information within this lifetime. ###

S & T Trivia

" Besides inventing the banana vinegar, Maria Carlita Rex-Doran also produced an ampalaya (bittermelon) concoction for diabetes mellitus and HIV infection. The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) conferred on her the Gold Medal in 1989, four years after another Filipina inventor, Olympia Gonzales, achieved the same award. "

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