One giant leap for science

3rd August 2001 at 01:00
If it's true that a butterfly fluttering its wings in the Brazilian jungle can result in a hurricane in the north Atlantic, will hundreds of thousands of children jumping at the same time in Britain cause an earthquake in China?

If such a catastrophe does result from the stunt to launch Science Year on September 7, Nigel Paine will be in big trouble. No insurance company has been prepared to provide cover for the Giant Jump, which aims to get a million young people to jump simultaneously.

The idea is not just to publicise Science Year, says Professor Paine, its director. Seismologists will measure the vibrations and students can use the data in experiments. The Science Year team is confident the jump will have an effect: earlier this year, the jumps of 250 Year 7 students at Plumstead Manor school in Greenwich, south London, registered on seismic equipment. The hope is that the jump will set a new world record.

The aim of the pound;20 million, year-long campaign is to change young people's attitude to science. "We want to achieve a permanent change in the uptake of science beyond the end of school," says Professor Paine.

But he believes that will not happen without better careers advice. "Children are not aware that a science or technology background opens up a new world to them." Eighty per cent give up on science at 14.

As part of the drive, the Department of Trade and Industry's science ambassadors programme will link science graduates and schools.

Resources and links to other relevant material will be added to the year's website at where schools can also register for the Giant Jump

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today