The Queen invented the telephone, and Isaac Newton discovered fire – according to British schoolchildren, anyway.
A survey of 1,000 school pupils for Birmingham Science City found just a touch of confusion about who was responsible for some of the world’s greatest scientific achievements.
Ten percent thought that Buzz Lightyear – the GGI hero of Toy Story – was the first man on the moon. Others thought it was Star Wars’ Luke Skywalker.
It has to be said that only a few believed that Her Majesty invented the phone – three quarters got the answer right. But a third believed that Sir Isaac Newton discovered fire, and others credited him with the discovery of America or DNA.
“While some of these findings will raise a smile, it suggests that school children aren’t tuned into our scientific heroes in the same way that they might be to sporting or music legends,” said Dr Pam Waddell from Birmingham Science City, which commissioned the report.
She added, “Our work is about demonstrating the value that scientific innovation brings to the economy and the things we take for granted every day, such as using the telephone or TV.”
Waddell said that children tended to be interested in science until they got to secondary school at about 11 years old.
“Nearly 70 per cent of nine and ten year olds would like to be famous for winning a Nobel Prize in science, yet this drops to only 33 per cent among 11 to 15 year olds,” she said.
“It appears children are losing an interest in science at secondary school, so more needs to be done to excite teenagers about the subject and rekindle some of their early childhood aspirations.”