WAX Science is a young French association created by Aude Bernheim and Flora Vincent, two students from AgroParisTech (Paris Institute of Technology for Life, Food and Environmental Science) and the CRI (Center for Research and Interdisciplinarity). It aims at enhancing the image of science by breaking down stereotypes. To do so, a team composed mostly of volunteers was mobilized to develop a collaborative platform that launched just yesterday, May 15th. Attractive visuals, some lively content, the promotion of its participants and a variety of formats are all important elements of this new approach to science, devoted to stimulating curiosity about science in young people.
This article is a translation of “WAX Science, une façon de lutter contre les stéréotypes” by Timothée Froelich.
Yesterday, May 15, 2013, the organization WAX Science launched its platform wax-science.org, intended to raise awareness among youth about science, stripped of its stereotypes. It was a great opportunity to spend an inspiring and original evening listening to numerous speakers, like François Taddei (Head of the Center for Research and Interdisciplinarity), Claudie Haigneré (Head of the Palais de la Découverte and the Cité des Sciences) and Clarisse Reille (Head of Grandes Ecoles au Féminin, Vice-president of Ingénieurs et Scientifiques de France). Various videos and presentations were on the agenda, to give some insight into this project initiated just a few months ago by Flora Vincent and Aude Bernheim.
Science faces a lot of stereotypes
For Aude and Flora, everything began last November. In their third year of engineering school at AgroParisTech, they are also pursuing a Master’s degree at the Center for Research and Interdisciplinary (CRI). With the scientific outreach club of the CRI “Draw me why”, both students contributed to the creation of a doodle video (a video based on drawings) that won the contest “Science: it's your thing”. While developing this project, intended to raise girls’ awareness of the sciences, they realized that stereotypes related to science go way beyond gender stereotypes and that science really has a pretty bad image among young people.
According to Aude Bernheim, “everything is decided when you are in junior high and high school, and that’s when it is crucial to sensitize youth, to give them a taste for science. To do so, creating an association with members and some digital tools quickly appeared as the obvious choice.” From there, everything happened very quickly: the first interviews, the official creation of the association, and finally the launch of the collaborative platform yesterday evening.
WAX Science, a fun and interdisciplinary project
The MyScienceWork Team strongly supports this initiative that aims to enhance the image of science by destroying its stereotypes. The whole adventure is based on the interdisciplinarity and complementarity of the association’s members. In a young and dynamic atmosphere, everyone shares his or her skills to promote science as a fun thing accessible to all. Currently, the contents are handled by the association’s members, but in the long term, this role will be played by the visitors, who will be able to enhance and develop the website with videos, articles, or images. For example, WAX will also suggest experiments to carry out at home, and conduct interviews concerning all the jobs related to science. For Aude and Flora, it is crucial to “attract” youth toward science by adapting to their desires and putting it within their reach.
This project truly is a collaborative platform created to map and catalyze initiatives and arouse the curiosity of young people. In order to promote such activities, contests will be organized on a regular basis, and the most read or commented articles will be highlighted, as well as the most active participants.
An association that will evolve with its members
According to the two founders, “this project is intended to stand on its own two feet in the pretty near future. As students, we also have other projects to carry out." While keeping an eye on things, they have already planned the handover of leadership of the association by doubling every position and letting each member make a contribution. That is also how parallel projects were brought to life, like the implementation of a gender index, a smartphone application that will make it possible to follow the sex ratio in various assemblies, and the use of WAX in schools.
To let this “non-profit start-up” succeed and achieve all its objectives, other financial resources will be needed. To that end, Aude and Flora answer various calls for project proposals, but if you want to participate in this dynamic and innovative initiative, you can invest via the crowd founding website KissKissBankBank.
The name alone – WAX Science – reflects the numerous possible approaches to science. The acronym stands for “What About Xperiencing Science”, and shows the fun side of science that needs to be built, created. WAX also alludes to the binding and unifying aspect of science and of the association, which will link science addicts, the simply curious, professionals and amateurs alike.
To find out more:
Center for Research and Interdisciplinary
Ingénieurs et Scientifiques de France
WAX Science : Qui sommes-nous ?(WAX Science: Who are we? (in French))