Misconception about Science: Part Three

Previously I talked about how little interest there is in science amongst children and the children want to do something else, because “that is more fun”. Scientists are opionated people. The point of science is to prove things, right or wrong — that is, find new theories and establish them, or prove current establishments wrong, making way for new theories. That is the single biggest challenge facing scientists. They are expected to act aggressively and nobody is trained for that. Moreover, from that point of view, it is not so surprising that people think that science involves such difficult things and large-scale experiments. So the fun side goes away and people tend to look elsewhere to make a career out of.All that often originates from the youth of people; when children do not learn early in their age that science is not about all that and they get involved with everyday little and fun things — be it practical things, such as experiments, or using media, such as educational videos or programmes on tv — then they will build interest into science. In my opinion, it helps if children and teenagers initially have sufficient knowledge about everything in life: not just science, but also medicins, politics, and so on. Of course, it is to a certain extent; otherwise it will be too difficult for them. Then, with that knowledge, they can make better decisions about their career, because they now know what each of the disciplines involves and they can determine whether it is something for them or not.Now, with respect to science, it is not a coincidence that the workshop Walking with Robots takes place in a building where science is the main theme. As mentioned before, it takes place in At-Bristol, which is a science and discovery centre that combines hands-on activities with the latest multi-media technology and exhibitions. It comes at no surprise to me that, when looking around, I encounter people who are interested in science, including children. After all, that is the target group of At-Bristol. Two pictures of children learning things about science and the corresponding discoveries are shown below.

Children playing on an organ-like instrument.

Children playing an organ-like instrument.

Demonstration about how to make glue.

Demonstration about how to make glue.

In general, however, I hardly hear people talking about science and making discussions about them. Only in my study of Artificial Intelligence at the University of Maastricht, the Netherlands, and other scientific places such talks take place in a regular manner. I strongly believe that there is simply not sufficient attention paid towards the development of interest in science amongst children and teenagers. If parents at home, teachers at school and the industry as a whole try to involve children more in science, then the situation will change for the better.In my next entry, I will cover some of the ways to change the situation. Stay tuned until then!


3 Responses to “Misconception about Science: Part Three”

  1. 1 Ciaran
    20 February, 2008 at 9:36 am

    Good subject, which should really be debated more publicly. I came late to study science, mainly because I grew up without an appreciation of scientific thought. It’s only now that I understand how useful it is. I’m now teaching it on to our eldest (who is 10). His interest lies in natural history, and zoology at present, (he’s building a healthy Attenborough collection) but he understands that principle of thinking and discovery is similar within all fields.

    Curiously enough, the bit that impresses him the most is that anyone can provide a theory, but it requires evidence to back it up. And if more evidence against your theory appears, you are allowed to change your mind. Somewhere he had picked up the idea that once you “know” something, you have to keep to that point of view, no matter what evidence is presented. Looking back, I think that if I’d understood that when I was younger, it would have made things a lot easier.

    Happy new blog by the way 🙂

  2. 31 March, 2009 at 7:29 pm

    I agree. Part of the problem is that parents have the misconception that teaching their kids science is hard. It’s not. If they realized that there’s lots of easy things to do that are more like magic tricks with a scientific explanation, it really is a lot of fun for both parents and kids alike. There’s plenty of easy experiments and explanations on the internet and lots to be learned with hands on experiences that you just can’t get from books.

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