Tag Archives: Moon

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.

 

Are You Not Entertained: The Amazing Feats of Human Potential

Yesterday, I was watching Diana Nyad’s press conference and it got me thinking about human potential. Not just human potential, but demonstrated human potential.

Over 50 years ago, Sir Roger Bannister busted all previously held illusions about human potential by running one mile in less than 4 minutes. Today, the world record sits at almost 20 seconds better than what Bannister ran on that fateful day in May. The day before yesterday, Diana Nyad swam — yes, swam — from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage, (which from the way she describes it, is a really big deal). A little over a year ago, James Cameron went deeper in the ocean than any other human has ever been. This past October, Felix Baumgartner reached the top of the sky when he jumped out of a capsule almost 40km up (into the stratosphere)! How about William Trubridge who, in 2011, set the world record for “free immersion” diving, [underwater without the use of propulsion], by going to a depth of 121 meters. Or maybe Dashrath Manjhi, commonly referred to as “Mountain Man,” who didn’t want anyone else in his village to die because a doctor was too far away, so he carved a path through a mountain. It took him 22 years.

I think at times — especially like these — it’s important to reflect on the amazing feats that humans can achieve when we put our minds to it.

These are just a few “recent” examples (and one not so recent). We could also pull up other examples from history. A common one is JFK exclaiming that he wanted to put a man on the moon before the end of the 60s — check. At the time, that was an unbelievable goal. It certainly helped that there were political implications to this goal, but nonetheless, humans did it. If we want to go back a little bit into history, we can think about Joshua Slocum who was the first person to single-handedly sail around the world.

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Is there something you’ve always dreamed of doing, but were too afraid to really get into it? People like Felix Baumgartner, Diana Nyad, James Cameron, and Sir Roger Bannister, I hope, can give you the motivation and the confidence you need to venture out to pursue that audacious goal. If there’s something that you dream of, believe that you can do it. Believe that you have the willpower and you will find a way to make it.

If you’re looking for a good place to start on your dreams, I highly recommend the idea of macro goals and micro quotas. It certainly seems to work for some folks who are achieving their dreams. Maybe it can work for you, too.