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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 November, 2003, 18:22 GMT
Science gets boost from space
The Beagle lander has been used as an example for inspiring young scientists
A British space project to explore Mars is being used to inspire school children to take an interest in science.

The school project, backed by Education Secretary Charles Clarke, is the latest attempt to try to make science more interesting and to capture the imaginations of youngsters.

A report from a cross-party committee of MPs last year claimed that too many teenagers found science "tedious and boring".

A more relevant, "science for citizens" curriculum has been developed - and at the launch of teaching materials linked to the Mars explorer, Mr Clarke said that it was important that pupils could make connections with the science they were taught.

The science material for schools will be based on the Beagle 2 lander, which has been sent to gather information from the surface of Mars.


Science Minister Lord Sainsbury said: "Beagle 2 is an ideal way of getting young people interested in careers in science, engineering and technology through materials targeted at delivering aspects of the national curriculum such as maths, sciences design technology and so on.

"The education materials will enable teachers to do this, inspiring more young people to consider science and engineering," said Mr Clarke.

The materials have been produced by the British National Space Centre, the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council and the Open University.

There has been a growing difficulty in attracting young people to study some science subjects, particularly in higher education.

University entries for physics-related degrees have fallen by over 20% in the last decade - a problem which has also made it difficult for schools to find an adequate supply of physics teachers.

This week, in an attempt to widen the pool of potential physics teachers, a pilot scheme was launched which offered a bursary of 150 per week to non-physics graduates to re-train as physics teachers.

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