Professor Lord Robert Winston captivates Cressex Students
World renowned academic and broadcaster speaks to students about the importance of “scientific literacy”
Staff and students were delighted to welcome Professor Robert Winston, Professor of Science and Society, Emeritus Professor of Fertility Studies, Imperial College London and well-known broadcaster, to Cressex Community School this week. Professor Winston spoke to a captivated audience of students and staff about the importance of scientific understanding in today’s world, in a talk entitled ‘Why Bother with Science?’
The objective, evidence-based arguments pursued in scientific research have never been so important. In these days of Brexit and Donald Trump, new phrases have emerged such as ‘fake news’ and ‘post truth’, reflecting the growing mistrust of information put out by people in authority to influence public opinion. It is crucial that young people acquire the skills and understanding to separate real facts from damaging fiction.
Also, it is clear that scientific advances, though they may have the potential for good, are not all necessarily used to the benefit of humankind and the world. We all need to engage with the question of how to prevent the products of science being put to uses that are destructive or even catastrophic.
So, Professor Winston’s visit couldn’t have been timelier. He spoke about how science pervades all aspects of our lives. He reminded us how critical the study of science is to the big topics of today – topics such as the future sustainability of our planet; modern communications between people and between things; and ways of combating disease.
The response from the students was overwhelmingly positive.
Lorant Kiraly, 13, said the talk had been interesting, adding he learnt that “you can look at science in different ways, from different points of view” and it gave him “the bigger picture”.
Maryam Choudhery, 14, said,
“I think [the talk] was really interesting, there were a lot of interesting facts and it was quite engaging as well. It was inspiring in multiple ways.
As a gesture of gratitude and in recognition of the work Professor Winston carries out to further genetic research in the areas of health that affect women and babies (through his role as Chairman of the Genesis Research Trust, students were thrilled to hand over a cheque for £550 to the Professor, the result of several fundraising activities that have taken place at the school.
Headteacher David Hood and Professor Winston were interviewed by Wycombe Sound on the day of talk. In the inteview, Professor Winston defended the role of science ‘in a proper democracy.’ Scientific literacy, he added, is essential for taking wise decisions about how science is used and controlled to avoid adverse effects on society. He also spoke about how he enjoys listening to the views and ideas of young people about science and how he has just as much to learn from them as they do from him.