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The Hood Magazine

More Reasons to Study Science

03/19/2014 09:34AM ● By Hood Magazine
By Richard E. Bavaria, Ph.D., Sylvan Learning Senior Vice President 

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Few people today speak more compellingly about the excitement and potential of science than Neil deGrasse Tyson, whose latest book, Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier, argues for increasing investment in space exploration and research. In interviews he talks of visiting middle school students and motivating kids by speaking of navigating Mars, investigating life on that planet, and exploring its geology. He makes science visionary, technology exciting, the future astonishing. Kids love this kind of motivation, and they respond to adults who lead them to think about their futures in new and seductive ways.

Tyson writes about space exploration in his latest book, and he argues that we earthlings can learn much about our own planet when we study others. What happened on Venus, for instance, with its “runaway greenhouse effect”? Or, Mars, now bone dry but which once had running water? He argues for science and technology on a grand and visionary scale, not just on the more mundane – but arguably more practical – pursuits like more fuel-efficient planes and cars.

Whatever you feel about space exploration, who could argue that 21st century kids need encouragement to study the subjects that hold so much potential for their futures? That means science, technology, engineering, and math, or the STEM subjects. 

What to say to kids to increase their interest in science? Here are half a dozen ideas.

  1. Science is everywhere. Show kids the impact of science and technology in their lives. The video games they play. The cars they’re interested in. The sports they play. The special effects in the movies they watch. The medicine they take. The athletic gear that improves their performance. The energy-efficient homes they live in. The tech-filled schools they study in.
  2. Science is really, really exciting. Who designs the new, safer, more efficient equipment and uniforms athletes compete with? Who predicts severe weather conditions with increasing accuracy? Who creates those amazing animated characters in movies? Who solves those scary and creepy crimes with complicated procedures? Who has innovative ideas about energy independence and sustainability? Who improves our health with the latest knowledge and robotic equipment? Who promises new therapies based on genetics? Who ignites new interests and discoveries in their daily jobs? People who’ve studied science, that’s who. Encourage kids to look into what biologists, geologists, nuclear physicists, forensic detectives, medical equipment designers, physical therapists, advanced engine technicians, and meteorologists do.
  3. Science is for everyone. Science class, with the right teacher, is active, exploratory, hands-on, and provocative. Kids who prefer their learning active have a perfect opportunity to be up and out of their seats often, working with lab partners, thinking creatively, learning and discovering by doing.
  4. Science can be fun. Those labs kids complete in science class are not only informative; they’re fun. Especially when kids see the usefulness and the relevance to their lives now and maybe even in the future.
  5. Science is now. The role of science in our lives and in our schools today has grown greatly in the past few years. Technology – a natural outgrowth of science – is responsible for tremendous changes in how we live our lives, teach our children, meet our challenges, fight crime, face our enemies, create art, make music, drive our cars, even give to charity. Kids can see this right away if we lead and direct their vision.
  6. Science is the future. As pervasive as science and technology are today, we ain’t seen nothin’ yet. The jobs of the future are increasingly dependent on workers’ precise knowledge and skills. Encourage children to investigate future-oriented careers, to check into post-high-school learning at community colleges, colleges, universities, and specialized institutions that focus on these careers.

The future beckons. Space exploration, anyone?