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Science mania

Studying science will soon be trendy, says Cliff Porter, thanks to some financial support available for schools.

Schools which would like to stage an event to mark Science Year, which starts this September, could be eligible for funding.

Money is available from the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA) to encourage pupils, teachers and industry, as well as the wider community, to develop a range of activities that will demonstrate the central role of science today.

Schools' Minister Jacqui Smith aims to dispel the view that "science is the preserve of the solitary geek working in a deserted lab".

Concentrating on 10 to19- year- olds, Science Year will see an "odyssey" of events that will aim to change young people's attitudes to science and technology.

Jacqui Smith says: "Research hows that while our results for key stage 2 science are excellent, children tend to lose interest once they reach secondary school."

Science Year director Professor Nigel Paine says: "This is hugely important for the future economic well- being of the country."

It is hoped the project will encourage a greater uptake of science-based higher education studies and careers.

Central to this will be the encouragement of links between schools, industry and universities. NESTA will be working in collaboration with the Association for Science Education and the British Association to ensure a co-ordinated approach to delivering a year with lasting impact.

NESTA welcomes comments through its website and also has details of project funding on the site at www.nesta.org.uk Science Year website: www.scienceyear.com

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