Thursday, May 31, 2012

Primary Connections

NOBEL laureate Brian Schmidt will use $100,000 of his prize money for a primary school science program the federal government has stopped funding. 
Professor Schmidt, in Stockholm to receive the Nobel Prize for Physics he and collaborator Adam Riess won jointly with Saul Perlmutter, has told The Australian his plans for his quarter-share of the $1.45 million winnings..

He will sign over $100,000 to the Australian Academy of Sciences to continue the Primary Connections program.

"One key thing I'm trying to promote post-Nobel prize is primary and secondary education," he said.
"Primary Connections has had very good penetration across the country -- 55 per cent of all primary schools have used it in one way or another -- and it is one of the most effective tools I have seen to help in teaching science to this age group."

Schools buy the modules for $25 each. The Department of Education has spent $9.7m on the program since 2004, but has declined further funding.

A department spokesman said the program "was always intended to be a four-stage project" and that the academy could now approach Education Services Australia, recently awarded $41m in federal funding for curriculum development.

Professor Schmidt said the academy wanted to support the science program through philanthropic, state and school-based contributions.

He will give his Nobel lecture tomorrow night (AEDT) and receive the prize on Saturday for discovering, along with US-based Professor Riess, that the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate.

The expansion discovery was established separately by Professor Perlmutter at the same time in 1998.

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