10 November is the International Science Centre and Science Museum Day designated by UNESCO and the theme this year is Science is a Human Right.
To celebrate this Day, the Ontario Science Centre had organized an event and invited Artash to be one of the speakers (see the list of Speakers towards the end of this article).
Artash wanted to share his passion for science and how he embarked upon his Science journey in Canada with other kids and their families and guardians. The topic of his presentation was: Dream Big and Every Kid Should have Access to Science. (click here to download his presentation)
He informed the audience that “Science is a Human Right” was not always a given. For instance, in 100 AD, Claudius Ptolemy, a Greco-Roman mathematician, came up with Earth-Centric model of our universe where the Earth held a special place in the Universe. It was at the center of the universe and the Sun and the planets revolved around it. The model became the accepted model by everyone and it became so dominant over the centuries that no other views were accepted – even when the predictions of the model failed to match the observations. The model was too big to fail and science and scientific progress lost out!
1400 years later, in 1500 AD when Copernicus and later Galileo came up with their Heliocentric view of the Universe. Their model showed that Earth had no special place and was one of the many planets revolving around the sun. It met fierce resistance as it challenged popular beliefs. In fact, Galileo was convicted of a “strong suspicion of heresy” – for challenging popular views! Galileo did not have the right to express his scientific views and observations freely.
Who suffers? As a society, we regress when we fail to make science a human right for all and give freedom to people to express their scientific views. The Renaissance and the Industrial Revolution would have come earlier and we could have progressed further if science did not meet stiff resistance.
Artash explained how Ontario Science Centre was the start of his science journey. This is where he participated in the first NASA SpaceApps Challenge and created an autonomous Rover – the CuriousBot which won one the top 5 Global Awards. Encouraged by the challenge-solving approach to science and scientific environment where age was not a barrier to expressing views, doing experiments and creating models, he was inspired to make many more projects in the next 5 years.
His projects won many awards. But the real joy was about dreaming about a project be it a rover, a rocket, a robot, or even an algorithm and being able to access scientific tools, knowledge, and expertise to turn the dreams into reality. Access to scientific opportunities, mentorship, and equipment gives kids the confidence to pursue science in a fun way.
He ended up giving demonstrations and workshops at schools, libraries, Maker festivals, science fairs, conferences and community events about his projects and how to build things to other kids and their families. To reach out to more kids and inspire them to become creators and not consumers he ended up co-founding HotPopRobot.com The objective of www.HotPopRobot.com was to encourage kids to experiment, to stay curious, to keep asking why, and go beyond what is expected of them in schools to become passionate in their areas of interest.
A number of organisations were a part of his science journey, including the Ontario Science Centre, the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Coderdojo, Kids Code Jeunesse, and others, including countless individuals who shared with him the love and passion for science.
Artash wants to ensure other kids can also have access to all the resources and opportunities to achieve their science dreams and passions. He encourages everyone to join a local science club, science museum, a science meetup group – being together with other like-minded people is a big way to learn. Do not be afraid of going beyond what is expected of you. Age is no barrier – you are never too old or too young to learn!
At the end of his presentation, Artash cautioned that even though we have come far from the time of Galileo, we should not take “Science as a human right” to be a given. It is still under threat as we have seen in many issues including climate change. Scientific evidence is clearly pointing out that climate change is human induced. Yet countries and policymakers are choosing to ignore the science behind climate change, many countries do not allow scientists to freely express their opinions or publish their results in this area. The end result would be a setback for human civilization and our quest to explore the universe, and we should not let this happen.
List of Speakers
- Renée Hložek, PhD, Assistant Professor, Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of Toronto
- Christina Hoicka, PhD, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University and PowerStream Chair, Sustainable Energy Economics
- Margaret Ikape, Graduate Student, University of Toronto and Instructor, West African International Summer School for Young Astronomers
- Yotakahron Jonathan, Medical Student, McMaster University and Mentor, Indigenous Students Health Sciences Office
- Marianne Mader, PhD, Executive Director, Canadian Association of Science Centres (CASC)
- Artash Nath, Maker and Science Advocate, HotPopRobot
- Krishana Sankar, PhD, Doctoral Fellow, University of Toronto and Co-founder, Women of Colour in STEAMM Canada
We thank Dr. Marianne Mader, Executive Director, Canadian Association of Science Centres (CASC) for moderating the Event. We thank Dr. Rachel Ward-Maxwell, Researcher-Programmer, Astronomy & Space Sciences Ontario Science Centre – our wonderful host. We never miss a chance to be back at the Ontario Science Centre!