When I was a kid growing up in England, one of the things I looked forward to the most at Christmas was the Royal Institute Christmas Lectures.
The Christmas Lectures are aimed at kids (even grown up ones!) and cover all sorts of subjects in science and technology. My favorite lectures were always on astronomy or mathematics (yes I was a geeky kid, and proud of it). Their aim is to get kids interested in science and technology, an increasingly important goal these days, so they're full of demonstrations, experiments, and rich graphics.
They have been given every year since 1825 (apart from a short break for World War 2), the first lectures being given by Michael Faraday himself, and have been televised since 1966. Over the years some pretty famous scientists have given the lectures, including David Attenborough and Carl Sagan. One of the most endearing things about the Christmas Lectures is the super-geeky lecturer, who’s clearly at the top of their field, wearing a bright Hawaiian shirt in an effort to look cool and trendy to the kids :-)
This year's lecture is being given by Prof. Chris Bishop who's going to be talking about the science behind the digital revolution – everything from the microchip to the internet to digital intelligence. I was pleased to find out that this year’s lectures are beings sponsored by Microsoft Research. If you’re in the UK you can catch them on Channel 5 beginning on December 29th at 7:15PM. There are five lectures in the series and they air each day at the same time. Previous lectures are available as web casts here.
If you have kids, nieces, nephews, or younger siblings encourage them to watch. Science and technology will need all the IQ we can muster over the next 50 years if we’re to survive and prosper. Just don’t let the bright shirt put them off…