Maurice Bazin

Ashoka Fellow
Illustration of a person's face depicting a fellow
Brazil
Fellow Since 1987
Espaço Ciencia Viva
Ashoka commemorates and celebrates the life and work of this deceased Ashoka Fellow.
This description of Maurice Bazin's work was prepared when Maurice Bazin was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1987 .

Introduction

Maurice Bazin is remedying a basic defect of Brazil's education system by popularizing science among the poor.

The New Idea

Bazin dreams of changing science education in the Rio de Janeiro State by creating a place where people can experience science and its uses. In order to promote science in Brazil, Bazin believes that the best means is to make it come alive. He wants to bring science to the people; he wants science to go beyond the labs and the books. Ultimately, Bazin envisions science as a powerful tool that makes people think.

The Problem

As a scientist, Bazin believes strongly that in order for poor countries to become fully competitive and independent in our modern world they must master science. Otherwise they will only lag further behind the North, both materially and in terms of self-confidence. However, the current prevalent belief in the world is that substantial scientific achievement is unattainable in poor countries. Sadly enough, such a view is common even in the South.In Brazil, education, of which the teaching of science is an integral part, has been deteriorating steadily. In Rio de Janeiro, roughly half of those who enter school drop out by the fourth grade; 85 percent quit by the eighth grade. The possibility of an emerging generation of uniformed citizenry is very disturbing.

The Strategy

As a scientist concerned with efficiency, Bazin would like to concentrate more on a "multiplicative" public - the teachers of science. Nevertheless, Bazin has not neglected the common folks either. He recognizes the importance of primary and secondary education especially. With all these in mind, Bazin has launched the project "A Space for Living Science". The project helps teachers learn how to incorporate students' experiences from daily life using simple experiments in their teaching. The project also consists of science events staged in open areas in poor neighborhoods, community schools, and public squares. Typically the project involves up to fifty volunteers who would assist Bazin in demonstrating innovative educational experiments. In addition, Bazin and his volunteers are also organizing a science center analogous to San Francisco's Exploratorium. There companies and their employees will develop a more in-depth feel for the underlying scientific principles of their work. Bazin also intends to build a dynamic, hands-on living museum of science.Already, Maurice Bazin's work has attracted attention from many quarters. The government, for instance, has given him a long-term lease of a 16,000 square foot area inclusive of free building use. Bazin's project will, in the long run, revolutionize science teaching in Brazil and hence contribute immeasurably to Brazil's faltering education system.

The Person

Maurice Bazin is a world class physicist educated at the Polytechnic University in Paris and Stanford University. He has taught at Princeton University and Pontificia Catholic University (PUC) in Rio de Janeiro. Bazin is a passionate man who believes science should and could be taught in a non-elitist manner. After travelling and working in many developing countries, he finally settled down in Brazil to pursue that vision.