Research experience for students below 21
One of the most important fields for the recruitment of new generations to science is the secondary school. Between 14 and 21 years is the age of self-discovery, when adolescents explore their capabilities and limits, and seek a place in society. Puberty is a challenging time for many parents and teachers. Their children and students question their ”wisdom”, and set out to find answers to problems that they think adults cannot properly address. Science and research offer a unique opportunity for adolescents to quench their thirst for answers and explore their intellectual strengths and capabilities. Research in a laboratory and interaction with other scientists provide a new social environment for these students, where they can earn recognition of their capabilities and find role models that they might not encounter at school, at home or with their childhood friends. Moreover many students who carry out research in a laboratory often form their first real friendships of consequence based on shared intellectual pursuits in this new environment.
Attracting young students to scientific research is a topic of growing importance from science’s point of view because the numbers of students who choose a career in the natural sciences is decreasing. Many senior scientists, economists and politicians in the USA and Western Europe are concerned about a potential decline in the number of scientists and engineers, which could hamper the growth of high-tech industries, particularly biotechnology and information technology. These of giving young people a basic knowledge of science and technology and awakening their interest in a research career are clearly recognized and have become a subject of many conferences.
All around the world an increasing number of initiatives ensure research possibilities for motivated secondary school students. These initiatives, however, work in isolation and in many places they work almost completely out of public knowledge. This is why UNESCO and other sponsors deemed it important to ensure a possibility for the exchange of experiences among the best initiatives worldwide within the framework of the Network of Youth Excellence. The Network is completely independent, politically neutral, and has no intention whatsoever to be involved in any political affairs locally or internationally. More than 25 organizations all over the world have already joined this network as Full Members or Partners.
Major aims and objectives of the Network
Full Members of the Network agree on a Memorandum of Understanding that describes the composition and operation of the Network of Youth Excellence and sets out its main objectives. Members pledge to:
Promote cooperation between existing scientific research training projects for students until the age 21 and their teachers in a wide array of scientific areas
Promote research collaborations between students and teachers of different programs and countries
Facilitate the collaboration with international organizations of young scientists such as the World Academy of Young Scientists (WAYS)
Better the existing projects by exchanging their experiences and outlining successful organizational and fundraising tactics
Help the initiation of scientific research training projects in countries where they currently do not exist
Initiate international joint scientific student/teacher projects
Promote the participation of students in the organization of research training programs
Encourage an inter- and multidisciplinary dialog on the ethical and responsible conduct of research and use of scientific knowledge as well as on social aspects of scientific research
Draw the attention of policy makers and the media to the importance to start the recruitment to scientific research at a very early age.
Diversity: our strength
The Network treasures the diversity of the approaches for science education and research training in:
Target groups (talented, underprivileged, motivated students; science teachers; society around the students and teachers, etc.)
Content (subject- or scientific discipline-based projects; participation in top science; broad, interdisciplinary projects; fun-type projects, etc.)
Methods (courses, summer schools, weekend seminars, continuous projects, lab-type projects, school-type projects, cyber-courses, distance-learning, etc.)
Aims (information transfer, ability development, raising self-confidence, raising long-lasting interest and commitment to science, help in science communication, help in applied research, promotion of public understanding, etc.)
The Network has only organizations as its full members. All regional, national and international organizations are eligible, which have at least two years experience in extracurricular education of young students (ages below 21) in science and technology. Full membership can be initiated by a written notice expressing the agreement of the organization with the Memorandum of Understanding and can be cancelled any time by a written notice. New full members of the Network are accepted by the Executive Board.
The Network regularly informs all interested schools, and other legal entities working in the field of extracurricular education of young students (ages below 21) in science and technology about its activities. The Network particularly promotes the activity of those organizations and individuals, who want to establish an organization eligible for full membership in the Network. Those, organizations and individuals who do not meet the requirements for Full Membership, or organizations that meet the requirements for full membership but prefer a more limited role, may become Partners of the Network. Partnership can be initiated by a written notice at the Secretariat addressed to the Board of the Network.
The Network works closely with the UNESCO World Academy of Young Scientists to establish contacts with other young scientists working as pre-college researchers, university undergraduates, Ph.D. students or postdoctoral fellows world-wide. The Network keeps regular contacts with interested governmental or non-governmental committees, bodies and individuals via various means, including the website (www.nyex.info) and the official email-list (nyex (at) nyex.info).
Sponsors of the Network may not work in the field of extracurricular education of young students (ages below 21) in science and technology but help the activity of the Network either financially or by other means. From the very beginning the Network has benefited by the support of diverse Sponsors from international organizations through governmental and non-governmental organizations, to firms and corporations.
Contact person for the Network: Dr. Csaba Böde, Secretary (secretary (at) nyex.info);
H-1054 Budapest Szemere u 21., Hungary , Tel/Fax: +36-1-222-0517.
Conceptual questions can be addressed to Dr. Korado Korevic, Chairperson (korado (at) astro.hr)