Teaching Science out of Science: An Exclusive Interview with Dr. Wei-Hsin Sun The First Taiwan Science Festival for Public to Enjoy the Beauty and Fun of Science

Oct 20, 2020

“Stop using science to teach science, it will bore the public!” said Dr. Wei-Hsin Sun, the Director-General of National Museum of Natural Science (NMNS), who is also the advocator of popular science in Taiwan. This year, he leads NMNS to hold the “Taiwan Science Festival” with the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Science and Technology. The festival co-organized by the five major museums and assisted by the ten major science bases aims to use art, history, and culture to deliver scientific knowledge and attitude. With a series of events all over Taiwan, the festival will allow the public to enjoy learning science in the nice autumn weather.

2020 marks the 50th anniversary of “Earth Day”. To celebrate it, five prestigious museums in Taiwan, naming National Museum of Marine Science and Technology in Keelung, National Taiwan Science Education Center in Taipei, National Museum of Natural Science in Taichung, National Science and Technology Museum in Kaohsiung, and National Museum of Marine Biology & Aquarium in Pingtung, collaborate to hold “Taiwan Science Festival”. Dr. Sun, who is in charge of the festival, had an exclusive interview with MOST GASE to talk about the event.

The Art of Science: Astronomer Kepler’s Life on Stage
Dr. Sun introduced that the activities in Taiwan Science Festival include stage shows, forums, science markets, seminars, science displays, and science contests. Moreover, these activities will be held all across Taiwan. Through interesting activities, the students can understand more about science through history perspective and everyday phenomenon. One of the highlights of Taiwan Science Festival is “The Legislator of the Starry Sky-The Life of Johannes Kepler”, the Grand Art Science Drama, which will inaugurate on October 31. The stage show will demonstrate Kepler’s extraordinary achievement and life experience through the time-traveling musical.

In the early 17th century, the German scientist and mathematician Kepler summarized the "Kepler's Laws of Planetary motion" which, combined with Copernicus' "Heliocentric model", completely overthrew the Catholic Church's "Geocentric model".The great discovery hence inspired Newton to propose the world-famous "Law of Gravity" and shed light on science development in Europe during the Medieval age. However, Kepler’s life had been rough despite his contribution to science development. He suffered from poverty and illness late in his life and passed away on November 15, 1630, in Regensburg. Coincidentally, after 390 years, November 15, 2020, is the closing day of Taiwan Science Festival.

Learn from Science Festivals Worldwide: Build Taiwan’s Science Grand Event
Dr. Sun pointed out that most countries that value science education plan science festivals, such as the World Science Festival in the US, Edinburgh Science Festival in the UK, and HK SciFest in Hong Kong. These science festivals have one thing in common, which is combining science with art exhibitions, performances, and activities to deliver scientific knowledge interestingly.

Since 2009, the International Year of Astronomy, Dr. Sun has published four outdoor science stage shows within ten years, which themed the greatest scientists’ life, including Galileo, Copernicus, Faraday, Halley, and Newton. “The Legislator of the Starry Sky-The Life of Johannes Kepler” is now the fifth stage show that aims to sow the seeds of science in everyone's heart through art performance.

“Using science to teach science will only bore your audience,” said Dr. Sun. He believes that science education should be related to our daily lives. Science can be enlivened by combining with nature, humanity, and art, and make the public realize that our everyday life is surrounded by science.

*Learn more about “Taiwan Science Festival”: https://tsf.moe.edu.tw/