WASHINGTON: Bluetext and Spitfire Strategies are working on an initiative funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation to interest more students in science.
The organization has awarded the Society for Science & the Public a grant to launch a contest that offers a $50,000 grand prize for the best idea for an equivalent of the chemistry set for the 21st century. The deadline for entries is January 7, 2014.
In recent years, fewer students have majored in scientific fields, creating a talent gap with countries such as China and Japan. One theory is that children's chemistry sets are less common in US households than in the past.
“A huge audience of people grew up with chemistry sets, and since this competition hasn't been done before, we're curious to see what people come up with,” said Rick Bates, interim CEO of the Society for Science & the Public.
His organization turned to Bluetext to develop the website for the contest. The organization is also generating content for Science News magazine, which it publishes, to get the word out. It is also reaching out to its more than 900,000 followers on Facebook and Twitter, Bates said.
The organization is also promoting the initiative with the help of Spitfire Strategies through paid and earned media and social media, said Genny Biggs, a communications officer at the foundation.
“Decades ago, the chemistry set helped children explore and fostered a spirit of discovery, but these experiences are becoming increasingly rare,” she said. “We want to encourage scientific inquiry at all ages and give children the tools that will help them to explore the world around them, now and in their future.”
In its outreach, the group is targeting a wide range of audiences, including grad students, digital developers, elementary school teachers, and tenured professors.
Spitfire deferred comment on the contest to the Moore Foundation.