Monday, June 28, 2010

Creating a Love of Science

As many people in our country have, I have become increasingly concerned with the state of science and mathematics in our educational system, as well as the stigma attached to those who enjoy those subjects. As a result I find myself convinced of the need to inculcate a healthy love for math and science amongst my own children. My wife and I are often on the lookout for good educational games, museums, and opportunities to help our kids in that regard. Additionally, although I surmise that my kids probably don't fully understand my responses, I try to answer their questions as carefully, accurately, and as simply as possible as they relate to the world around us.

Recently, we stumbled across the Hands-On Museum in Ann Arbor, MI. It had been recommended to us by several and we decided to give it a try. In short, it was brilliant! It had many exhibits, each touching on various aspects of "how things work." It had a half-built house showing framing structure, plumbing, heating and air conditioning. It had a biology section showing bone structure, as well as fun cardiovascular and strength exhibits. It had a full-size ambulance available for examination. It had exhibits on sound waves, an optics and light room, a forces and torques section, a pullies exhibit, an automobile section, electricity, and so on. We liked it so much, in fact, that we bought a season pass. Ultimately I'm not sure who liked it more - me or the kids!!

I think it's vitally important to create a sense of wonder and awe for science and nature. There is so much to learn, so many puzzles yet to solve, and so many amazing phenomena, it's hard for me to imagine why anyone wouldn't be interested! So my question, readers, is how do you create this sense of wonderment in your children? Do you have similar museums where you live? Do you spend time with your children talking about nature and how things work?


  1. We got a Museum pass at the Boston Children's Museum that is also good at other children's and science museums across the country. Then on our vacations, we stop along the way at the various museums. So our daughter (who is only 2) was really excited to see the museums, and wasn't so excited to see Acadia National Park. Oh well. But, these museums are the greatest.

    In creating the wonder in other kids, it helps just to be willing to share what you're interested in. When my wife and I were on a kayak tour in Acadia last week at sunset, I pointed out Venus in the sky to our group. The two kids on the tour (about 10-12 years old) thought it was the coolest. They then asked a ton of questions, like how many Venuses would fit inside the Moon, and how many moons are needed to fill the whole sky. Just taking the time to talk to kids about science does wonders.

  2. Jmb275,

    Great post! I agree that creating a sense of wonder is paramount to having good science literacy. We try to go to things like meusems, aquariums or national parks too. And it's always fun to see how nature solved so many problems. It is really amazing!

  3. I just need to convince the right woman in order to do some children, after I will be able to answer :) .

  4. Yesterday all 4 of my girls (17-8) were designing their own modules for the space station on a giant touch screen in the aerospace museum at the smithsonian. That was really cool. They were all totally engaged. They also liked the quiz games.

    When we're not at the smithsonian, I have a telescope at home that they like to look through. We will check the times and go outside when the ISS flies over. We always watch shows on the science channel etc...

  5. Re Cartesian
    "I just need to convince the right woman in order to do some children"
    Ah yes, a difficult problem indeed! The good news, at least in the U.S., is that I think culturally we are shifting back to a love affair with the nerds!

    Re Stan
    "Yesterday all 4 of my girls (17-8) were designing their own modules for the space station on a giant touch screen in the aerospace museum at the smithsonian."
    So jealous!


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