Watching Prof Brian Cox and the ABC’s program Stargazing and in particular the two young superstar scientists presented by Dr Karl Kruszelnicki made me think again why science is so important, particularly for young children.
It’s not important that they should necessarily learn astronomy (or physics or chemistry for that matter) when they’re at school when they are young. What is important is that we should learn to think like scientists and that they should learn to do so when they are very young.
Children start off being naturally very curious. My grandson is no exception.
He takes a constant delight in the world around him. And while this is wonderful to watch, we need to be aware that, as parents and grandparents, it’s only the starting point.
What must follow is more important, more difficult and more time-consuming.
“Watch what happens when you wind the swing up.”
“Watch what happens when you wind the rubber band up, remember the swing, they’re both the same.”
“Watch what happens if you live the string of the balloon go.”
I’m sure you get the point.
It’s about data collection. Do enough and you can start drawing some hypotheses, some ideas about how the world works.
You can also do some: If you do this, then this will happen. Cause-and-effect stuff. Establishing that there are interconnections that work in the real world: An important idea that many people do not grasp.
Why this so important?
Because it’s the way the world works. If you want our kids to understand it, then there is a certain way they have to think about it.
The the logic of science is the only way we can get our kids to understand the natural world. Because without the logic of science, they will never understand how evolution works, how aeroplane stay up in the air and why we need to stop burning fossil fuels.
They will also be forever at the mercy of demagogues, charlatans, con merchants, hucksters, and the various forms of rat-baggery that infect and influence the body politic.