Last Nov. 30, 2013, I was invited by the Mind Museum to attend a forum called “Cafe Scientifique” that was set to be held at the Canopy Plaza. I had no idea what Cafe Scientifique was. Apparently, it’s a worldwide movement that started in Europe with the aim of bringing science closer to the public through conversations such as the forum that day.
As it turns out, the Mind Museum hosts Cafe Scientifique regularly for free and open to the public. The topic that day was “Why Should Pinoys Bother With Science?”, which is a very relevant topic to have considering the recent natural events that happened in the country.
That day they invited scientists from Phivolcs, Pagasa, Manila Observatory and Project Noah. The panel included Maribel Garcia (curator of the Mind Museum), Dr. Gerry Bagtasa (Professor at the UP Institute of Environmental Science and Meteorology), Dr. Renato Solidum (Director of Phivolcs), among others.
The audience were allowed to ask the panelists any question they can think of related to the topic. There were a lot who asked questions and I’m sure there would have been a lot more if only there was more time. However, even if the forum only lasted for a little over an hour, the panelists were able to share a lot of useful information that were eye-openers for me.
Here are some of the thoughts shared by the panelists:
- Filipino children need a deeper understanding of science.
- Filipinos are superstitious but receptive to science.
- Urban areas are more exposed to science but in rural areas, people don’t have a deep understanding of it. As a result, they can’t understand the potential effect of a natural disaster to them.
- Scientists also have to study the culture of the people to know how to make them understand what’s going on.
- People tend to rely on past experiences instead of predictions.
- When it comes to natural disasters, don’t rely on your past mistakes. Rely also on the past mistakes of others as well.
- It is harder to make a forecast of the rain in the Philippines because of its natural hot climate.
- It is hard to make a forecast on earthquakes because of the timescale.
- It is hard to say now if the recent typhoons were caused by climate change. But, in the future, there is a higher probability for higher intensity typhoons because of climate change.
- The extent of damage caused by a typhoon also depends on population. The larger the population, the bigger the possibility of damage.
- We have to improve the people’s disaster imagination. A preparedness plan must be set not only on the family level but also from the community and the government.
- Climate Change is most likely caused by humans based on recent consensus.
- The Philippines is vulnerable no matter if climate change is caused by humans or not.
I have to admit that I don’t have that deep of an understanding of science. It’s something that most of us take for granted. But due to the recent happenings in the country, I think most, if not all of us were given a wake up call. We really need to educate ourselves more about how science works and how it affects our daily lives.
As a parent, I now feel that we shouldn’t leave our kids’ science education just up to the school. We should continuously teach them as well at home so that they can understand science concepts better. Hopefully, that will help them whenever a natural disaster strikes once again. All we can really do, aside from do our part to save the earth, is to really prepare as best as we can for whatever will happen.
I’m so glad I was able to attend this event. For those of you who haven’t tried attending Cafe Scientifique yet, visit the Mind Museum’s website, www.themindmuseum.org for updates. You can also follow them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.