In the course of administering the Clean Tech Competition, one thing that has struck me is the inconsistency in research programs amongst secondary schools. My own did not have any sort of research program and when I look even now they still do not. And it makes me wonder: why? Why is research not more of a thing in every nation, large or small, wealthy or poor? My initial thoughts are that it is the same reason that many students do not perform research on their own; they feel as though they need a big expensive lab to be able to accomplish anything because that is the image they have always had.
Surprise, you do not! While it certainly helps, a fancy lab does not cause you to innovate, it merely helps. And if anything, the perception of a lab being necessary stymies growth on its own. Several of the best projects from the Competition have been done in an informal setting.
If this sort of thinking, that science can be done anywhere, was more prevalent, how much farther along could we be as a world? If everyone looked around and saw something they could improve on their own and did not feel a major obstacle, what would that accomplish? In younger kids especially, a whole lot. Children are curious as a rule. Encouraging them to apply their curiosity at a young age would inspire legions more to pursue a scientific career. At least, that is how I see it!