Tag Archives: podcast

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?

Podcasts for Starting out in Skepticism

16 Jun

by Benjamen Johnson

A topic that often comes up at skeptics meetings is: “What podcasts are good for somebody starting out in skepticism?” or a variation thereof. There are probably hundreds of podcasts that are skeptical in nature, more if you include the science podcasts, but if you want to find out more about skepticism, I have three general skepticism podcast recommendations.

In some particular order that only makes sense to me:

The Skeptics Guide to the Universe: One of the grand-daddies of skeptical podcasts, the SGU covers skeptical news items, interviews people related to skepticism — or occasionally non-skeptics, and most famously plays the game Science or Fiction.

My first skeptical podcast, I started out listening to an episode of The SGU because they were interviewing Dr. Phil Plait about bad science in movies, I enjoyed the show so much that I went back and caught up on all their past episodes. I like the SGU because it almost feels like you’re listening to a skeptical conversation at the pub, rather than a scripted show.

Meet the Skeptics: You go to a skeptics meeting and people will talk about a lot of skeptics you’ve never heard of. Chris Brown’s podcast is the solution. In Meet the Skeptics, he interviews a different skeptical “celebrity” each week. He doesn’t assume that you already know who the person is and his interviews usually give you a pretty good background.

Skeptoid: Skeptoid is a weekly podcast that focuses on a just single issue per podcast. They tend to run about 10 to 15 minutes long and are generally well researched.

It’s somewhat of a joke in the skeptical community about how Brian Dunning starts his podcast — “You’re listening to Skeptoid, I’m Brian Dunning from Skeptoid.com,” a lot of people think he’s being vain, and he could be, but in an older podcast he explained that he originally didn’t mention his name, but felt it was important to own up to what he was publishing.

One podcast that’s curiously absent from my list is Skepticality. Although it was the first skeptical podcast and it is highly recommended by many skeptics, I’ve tried listening to it many times and just can’t get into it. So try as I might I can’t recommend it.