David Perks is Head of Physics at Graveney School in London. He is a passionate defender of academic science education, co-founder of the Physics Factory and author of “What is science education for?”
Science is for the young people I teach one of the most important cornerstones of their intellectual framework for understanding the world. Through grappling with science they come to fathom out what they can and can’t know about the world around them. That is not to say they always get it right but they have a deep respect for science and can at least frame their understanding in relation to what they know of modern scientific thought.
To put it another way, science can take a child from the enthusiasm of carrying out experiments for the first time in a laboratory to developing an entire abstract conceptual model of matter and its properties in just a few short years. The exhilaration of this journey of discovery is the opening of a door into other worlds. It hints at the power of the human mind to conceive of nature in ways that leave the mundane world pupils normally inhabit far behind. Science hints at how far we could go. Science is about providing us with the tools to shape our future and create our own destiny rather than accepting the limits placed upon us by circumstance.