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Reverse Psychology

The UK's Royal Society is trying to encourage school kids' interest in science. But to do that, says New Scientist's Michael Brooks, science is going to have to look a little less "squeaky-clean." Although young children tend to be fascinated by science in school, most of them go on to other things between the ages of 10 and 14, Brooks says. That's generally when they start asserting themselves and rebelling against the rules, a stage of life that has consequences for their interest in science. "Behind the curtain, scientists are surprisingly colorful. The world-changing ones are, by definition, anti-authoritarian, risk-taking rebels," Brooks says, adding that "the problem is, school students only ever hear about the breakthrough itself."

While scientists have been busy making science look as clean-cut and friendly as possible, they've also made it look "dull, inhuman and robotic," Brooks adds. Making the flaws of science apparent to kids might make scientists more, not less, interesting to them, and might bring back some of the fun that's gone missing.