Teaching Children Science

9 Jul

Catching up on my podcasts this morning, I listened to a really interesting episode of Skeptically Speaking: #169 Play Reality. While the first part of the episode about gaming was interesting, the second part featuring a panel of children at LogiCON 2012 speaking about their interest in science really got me thinking.

I think the core ideas I took away from this interview come from these few excerpts:

Desiree:  ” …has there ever been a time that an adult tried to encourage you to become involved in science in a way that was spectacularly unsuccessful?”

Evin: “…they tell us these things, but they don’t tell us why these things are happening…They told us the information we should know, but not like why we should know the information”

Evin: “…everybody in the class as early as kindergarten and grade one, we all had this common interest for science but we all mostly like to look at sort of space and aerodynamics, but we didn’t actually get those units until grade five. I think it would have catapulted all of us even higher if they had just done that.”

Desiree: “…do you think that the other kids would have thought the same thing or do you think it just would have helped the people that were already sort of going that direction anyway?”

Evin:  “…when I was younger, my teachers all most scared me away from science. They sort of say it’s all complicated and that kind of thing, but once you sort of get a basic level of understanding, it just continues, it excels…”

Here’s what I hear this kid saying:

“We are interested in science now and ready for you to teach us now, not later when we’re older. Don’t assume we can’t understand it and discourage us by saying it’s too complicated. Capture our imagination now, don’t wait until later, it may be too late! And when you do teach us please don’t turn it into dry and boring facts.”

Since these children were attending Logicon, their interest in science may be the exception rather than the rule, but Evin’s statements make me wonder if these kids really have to be the exception. The big question is: what can we as parents, as family, as teachers, as role models, and finally as skeptics do to capture children’s imaginations early and to kindle their interest in science rather than extinguish it?

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Cardboard Pareidolia

26 May

I was walking around my neighborhood after the morning rain and saw this guy in a recycling bin:

Aliens? How quaint.

20 May

Adam Huber, creator of Bug Comic, scoffs at your aliens. (click on the link or the image below to make it bigger)

Not-So-ExtraTerrestrial

It’d be laughable if it weren’t so sad…

10 May

For the last three years I’ve worked in the insurance industry and I’ve learned a lot about how it works, at least as it relates to work comp. While I could go into the nonsense that insurance companies cover and what the states mandate they pay for, I opt instead to share an almost amusing trend I’ve noticed.

I process hundreds of bills a day and see a lot of doctors and “medical practitioners” and I’ve noticed that without exception, admittedly as far as I’ve noticed, the only people to put “Dr.” in their name when signing health care forms are chiropractors. Physicians, physical therapists, acupuncturists, even healing touch practitioners (yes, I’ve seen claims for healing touch be processed), not one of them sign the bill Dr. John (or Jane) Doe. I’m not sure if it’s pride or desperation that drives this. The only people to see these signatures are healthcare workers (and people at insurance companies) and I can’t help but feel that it might be born of a desire to be accepted and thought of as equals to MDs. Also possible, perhaps probable, I’ve put far too much thought into this. (In my defense, it’s a really mindless job, I’ve got to do something to keep my brain active.)

Side note: I also worked out how many Lego bricks would be needed to build a covered foot-bridge across the Mississippi: about a quarter million… Yeah, it’s that mindless.

Passing Away SGU Style

30 Apr

From the lovelies over at Skeptics Guide to the Universe: