• Question: Is the only reason you want the £500 so that you can visit schools, although this is useful to get children to think about science, but surely the money could be given to someone who is trying to find a cure for a disease. Why is it more important to make children aware than to try to find a cure?

    Asked by flipper to Derek on 14 Jun 2011.
    • Photo: Derek McKay-Bukowski

      Derek McKay-Bukowski answered on 14 Jun 2011:

      That’s a fair question. Let me explain my reasoning…

      Teaching school students is an investment. Of course, everyone in the world could plan to give the money just to ‘curing diseases’, but when the existing scientists and doctors grow old and retire, there might be no-one to replace them.

      Also, sometimes disease is not just about making people better, but from stopping people getting sick in the first place. For example, is it better to cure people from radiation cancer, or to teach them about the harm (and benefit) or radiation in the first place?

      With all these things, there needs to be a balance. For me, I never had a chance to speak with real scientists when I was at school. I feel that something like that would have helped me. And public-speaking is something that I am good at, and could get involved with directly (rather than just giving the money to a charity). Additionally, because I would visit the schools in Chromium Zone, all the students would benefit as well.

      The prize money is for science communication. As I am not a micro-biologist, medical scientist or geneticist, finding cures is outside of my line of work. So, my idea is to do something that I can do and that matches the conditions.

      Ultimately, you and the others in your school need to decide who the best scientist is… and that includes what you think of their plans for spending the prize money.