When I tell people what I do (geologist), most will say, “I’ve never met a geologist before. That’s so interesting.” While I don’t do what people probably imagine a geologist might do, the foundation is important. I still consider myself a scientist.
This report is about a study that says parents apparently want to encourage their kids in science but don’t feel they are equipped to do so. From Science Daily: Parents Need Help Encouraging their Kids in Science http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100510092004.htm
I have never been asked to speak at my kids school. I never get asked to speak at community events. People don’t typically inquire at my workplace about meeting scientists or having them speak to groups. I’ve been asked to speak about specific issues, but not about a job in science. Therefore, I believe most people think they have never met a scientist but we are really all around them. It’s not some esoteric subject. It’s a shame that our culture has stereotyped scientists as the brainy, socially inept white male in a lab coat with unkempt hair. That’s really inaccurate.
Here is where TV can help.
I know. TV is bad. It mostly is. But shows like Mythbusters have made science into family fun time. There is no excuse for parents not to be introducing their kids from ages 4 and up to Mythbusters as a gateway into thinking about how the world works. That is science. So, for parents that feel sleepy at the thought of watching David Attenborough documentaries, cue up Mythbusters on the tube to watch and talk about together. Then, get outside and look for bugs, fly a kite, put Mentos in soda, count the birds, look at the stars, examine dirt with a magnifying glass, hike a nature trail, watch the clouds, collect things at the beach, plant seeds, start a rock collection, identify wildflowers… I could go on and on. Just get out there and observe the world. It’s not that hard.