Science class draws young fans

Summer science camps report full rosters, with girls in particular joining the wave of young people showing an interest in science

Physics, chemistry and biology have shed their nerdy image among young people, according to the Danish Youth Association of Science. Membership has increased from 2000 to 3500 in recent years, said Mathias Bach Poulsen, chairperson of the association.

Summer 'Bio Tech Camps' at the Technical University of Denmark have also noted a growing interest among girls, who outnumbered boys nearly three-to-one. The new Danfoss Universe science centre in Jutland also welcomed overwhelming crowds, according to its manager Charlotte Sahl-Madsen. Some 25,000 primary and high school students visited the centre in Jutland.

'Young people embrace the sciences. They're not at all embarrassed. It's almost as if it was cool,' said Sahl-Madsen.

Presenting science in a way that has relevance for the everyday life of young people is crucial, she said.

'It's important that you instruct them in everyday things such as their refrigerator instead of abstract concepts such as thermodynamics.'

The increased interest was good news for Danish companies, according to Charlotte Rønhof, head of research at the Confederation of Danish Industries. The current lack of engineers has not abated, however. She underscored the need to educate teachers who nurture curiosity rather than put a damper on it.

'Actually, it's kind of strange that interest for these subjects is not greater,' said Rønhof. 'All children are curious about the world around them.'

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