Students to solve global dilemmas at Festival

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Students to solve global dilemmas at Festival

Students to solve global dilemmas at Cheltenham Science Festival

On June 8th 2007, Cheltenham Science Festival is launching its first "Lodestar" strategic simulation, setting a team of Year 10 students the challenge of planning health strategy in Sub-Saharan Africa, in accordance with UN Millennium Development goals.

The term Lodestar refers to a star used as a navigational aid. Lodestar will become an annual event that applies strategic simulation techniques to intransigent social and scientific problems. The simulation is developed by consultants from Simulstrat.

In Lodestar 2007, students will play advisers to a famous ex-footballer who becomes the mayor of his home-region in Africa and announces his manifesto to eradicate suffering in the region. The students, from around five schools, will be split into teams of eight and tasked with creating a strategy based on a series of briefings provided to them before the game. Restrained by limited budgets and real-life practical challenges, the teams will be forced to make some very difficult decisions.

Throughout the game, Simulstrat's team of experts will throw in 'unplanned events' to destabilise their plans and push the team's abilities to the max.

The simulation provides an ideal platform to explore the validity of western ideals, moving the debate from the classroom to a situation where students begin to feel the reality of developing countries. It will be a welcome change for curious students who feel limited by the theoretical nature of science courses.

Dr Gill Samuels, CBE and Chair of Cheltenham Science Festival, instigated the simulation. Samuels commented that Lodestar is structured to demonstrate how today#146;s scientists, from both the developed and developing world, have to deal with politics, the media and diverse partners as they strive to develop health solutions in poverty-stricken areas.

Samuels says: "Lodestar will help students to find their own answers to questions such as: How do you relieve suffering? How do you ration limited resources? How do you plan for future health threats? It is a live exercise that illustrates the enabling role of science in addressing major societal issues and encourages students to consider science-related careers to address some of the intractable global problems we face now and in the future."

Ken Charman, CEO of Simulstrat the strategic simulation experts, said of the event: "The simulation applies real science to a persistent problem. There are no predetermined outcomes or right or wrong answers.
Participants have to combine science and humanity and make difficult, ethical decisions. Then they have to apply their strategy against a dynamic environment that responds in unpredictable ways. Anyone who participates will tell you 'It is not a game'. It is an intense experience in problem solving, communication and execution.

Charman added: "We usually run such simulations with senior executives of global organisations. It will be hugely interesting to see how much younger and less experienced players will react. We anticipate high levels of motivation, compassion with bold and radical solutions."

The Cheltenham Science Festival takes place from June 6th - 10th 2007 and will play host to a number of high profile personalities, from Lord Robert Winston and Jonathan Porritt to David Cameron, Richard Branson and Alex James, journalist and former Blur bassist.

Posted : 09/05/2007 13:20:19

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