Tag Archives: Gravity

The Importance of Literacy in Science

A few weeks ago, I heard a parent attempting to describe to their little one what time it was in a different time zone.  I don’t precisely remember how the parent described the difference, but it got me to think about things of this nature and how we go about explaining them to our little ones. Further to that, it made me consider the importance of literacy in science.

My thought on this is that if a parent is better able to explain the science behind some things to their kids, it might make it easier for the kids to remember the concepts (or understand why things happen). The scientific explanation would replace the, “Oh that’s just the way it is,” or “Just because,” answer that kids might often hear from their parents.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful, though, if when kids ask parents why the sky is blue, parents are able to coolly and calmly explain Rayleigh scattering? Or when when kids ask parents about the sun always rising in the East and setting in the West, parents can explain the Earth’s rotation? Or what about when kids ask parents about things always falling to the ground and parents can explain the basics of gravity?

I suspect that if parents are able to offer kids a scientific explanation for why things happen, it could give kids a better rooted understanding of the natural world around them. More than that, I suspect that if it becomes the “norm” that parents (and people) have a basic understanding of scientific concepts, it might change the way we look at Science (or STEM!).

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Now, I’m not saying that parents need to go out and get PhD’s in biology, chemistry, or physics, but having a basic understanding of some of the more popular questions could go a long way towards normalizing an understanding of the world around us. Think back to when you were a kid — right in the thick of that period when you asked your parents questions about everything. No doubt, your parents were able to answer some of your questions and give you reasonable explanations, but I suspect that up to a point, the explanation probably began to fell apart. That’s not for lack of trying on the parent’s part — you can only explain so much when it comes to things you don’t understand. But I wonder if your mom/dad were able to give you the best explanation (that is, what science seems to tell us is the most current theory for why something happens), would that have maybe motivated you to test that theory?

For instance, let’s say you were asking your parents about gravity and your mom/dad explained the difference between gravity on the Earth and gravity on the moon. Might that motivate you to consider what the gravity is like on other planets or what the gravity is like in space or what the gravity is like in something that even I can’t consider at this moment? Kids are full of imagination and creativity, and I think if we foster that imagination through some of humanity’s best understand of the world around us, we just might encourage our little ones to change the way we think about the world.

 

Quick Thoughts on Last Night’s Golden Globe Awards

Last night was the 71st Golden Globes. They’re a little behind the Academy Awards who are on their 86th taking place in about a month. Anyhow, I usually like watching these awards shows, especially if I’ve seen some of the movies that are in contention. This year, I had the chance to see a few of the movies that had garnered a number of nominations: American Hustle, Her, 12 Years a Slave, Captain Phillips, Gravity, and Dallas Buyers Club.

I really liked American Hustle, but after watching Dallas Buyers Club and 12 Years a Slave, I was torn between who I thought deserved the awards in some categories. I thought that Jennifer Lawrence had a great performance in American Hustle, but I also thought that Lupita Nyong’o had an excellent performance in 12 Years a Slave. I think they’re both talented and terrific actresses, but with the underrepresentation…

… I’m torn.

I wish that this weren’t an issue in our society. I wish we could judge/award movies/performances on their merits and not worry about whether we’ve been fair in accounting for diversity. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely know and understand that because of our history, white people have a decided advantage when it comes to events like this (and life, in general), but I wish I could just be happy for Jennifer Lawrence and not wonder about Lupita Nyong’o. Unfortunately…

I was also torn when it came to the Best Actor in a Drama category. I’d seen three of the films for which actors were nominated in that category and in my opinion, it would be a toss up between Chiwetel Ejiofor (Choo-it-tell Edge–ee-o-for) and Matthew McConaughey. I thought they both gave excellent — excellent — performances. When Jessica Chastain announced Matthew McConaughey, I was happy, but as was the case for Jennifer Lawrence, I was a bit sad that Ejiofor didn’t win (or, for that matter Idris Elba, who I’ve read gave a great performance in Mandela).

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I don’t have a solution to this dissonance I feel, but I wanted to express my desire for a time when feelings like these needn’t be had. Maybe it will come in 10 years, maybe it will come in 100 years. When it does, I will welcome it with open arms.