Making Science Cool for Kids
Exploring the natural world with your child
The Falmouth, Massachusetts, area is more famously known for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the largest independent oceanographic research facility in the country. Jones says the Children’s School of Science attracts many of the scientists working at Woods Hole: Their children love the classes in seashore life, woods, ponds and fields, marine biology, oceanography, ichthyology, and nautical science, ornithology and photography. His own 12-year-old has enjoyed “any class that involved dissection,” with seashore life, marine biology and ichthyology at the top of the list. “While many of our parents are scientists themselves, we find that the kids’ enthusiasm is what drives the families to do more with science and exploration outside of our program, often done so the kids can teach their parents what they have learned.”
Making Science Cool
That message of finding the fun in everything natural is getting out into the cities, too. “Science is everything and it’s everywhere and it crosses through every part of life,” says Tyraine Ragsdale, otherwise known as Grand Hank, the Philadelphia chemist-rapper with his own local TV show, “The Science Lab of Grand Hank.”
Grand Hank’s message about science is this: Science is cool and so are the people who practice it. Grand Hank began rapping his science message to children in 1989 after getting a job as a researcher. He’s no longer in the lab, but his message of scientific discovery is just as inspiring. He combines a positive, curse-free rap message about the joys of science to schools and other groups across the country. A college graduate with a degree in chemistry, he now raps about acids and bases, polymers and light.
Help for Non-Scientific Parents
Grand Hank’s tips to help children master science, “or at least pass the course,” also could apply to their non-scientific parents:
- Build your science vocabulary to help increase your understanding of the subject.
- Determine what you already know about the subject.
- Isolate the things you don’t understand and write them down on paper.
- Create a rap song or poem of your subject to help learn and remember difficult concepts.
“If kids are going to participate and comprehend the technology that they’re using, that’s science,” emphasizes Grand Hank. “I love science and I love presenting science. And I love entertaining. My quest was to present science in a way that would connect with kids.”
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