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[BEIJING] Nearly one million Chinese schoolchildren have learnt more about science thanks to the efforts of just 25 retired researchers in the country, a science communication conference in Beijing heard yesterday (23 June).

This is an example of how retired scientists can use their knowledge to inspire people, said Ouyang Jing, a graduate student of science communication at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Ouyang was describing an initiative of the academy called the Association of Speakers in Public Interest of Retired Experts.

Speaking yesterday at the Public Communication of Science and Technology symposium in Beijing, China, Ouyang said that since the association was set up in 1997, about 910,000 children have seen a lecture by one of the organisation's 25 members.

The retired scientists talk about basic science, new research findings and the role of science in society. In the past eight years, they have addressed audiences in 100 cities in 21 of China's 32 provinces.

The not-for-profit initiative is entirely supported by a small amount of funding from the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

China has about 500,000 retired scientists, who could become an important resource for science communication, said Ouyang.

More than 120 delegates from 21 countries attended the three-day event, jointly sponsored by PCST, the China Association for Science and Technology, and SciDev.Net.

Click here to view SciDev.Net's coverage of the PCST meeting in Beijing.

Read more about science communication in SciDev.Net's 'E-guide to science communication'

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