N: I had a conversation at the awards ceremony with John Mather about kids and science. John’s argument was that kids are natural scientists — and that the problem we’re facing is not how to interest kids in science; rather, the challenge is in *keeping* them interested.
The Science Expo today demonstrated the truth in his argument (not that I’m surprised):
The Mall was swarming with children — from tiny tots to tweens — and they were excited! They were engaging in hands-on exhibits, they were asking questions, they were dragging their parents to different booths — their energy was positive and overwhelming. They were having a great time. And — their parents were, too!
I think John is spot-on. We need to invest some energy in teaching science teachers how to make science lively and entertaining for their classes, so kids can hold onto their innate interest in the subject and its processes.
That way, those same kids doing backyard science experiments — like turning over rocks to look at bugs, jumping out of trees, and making acorn shakes [full disclosure: I’ve done all those things] — will grow up and become science-literate, science-interested adults. And some of them may even go on to become scientists!
The thrill of discovery is something we’ve all experienced. Let’s keep it alive, people.