When we think of great names in science, say Darwin, Einstein, or Curie, we mostly focus on their exceptional achievements, not necessarily on the persons themselves. But like everyone else, long before they became great names, they were children. What were the things that influenced them as they were growing up?
As we know, children’s minds are like clay that can be molded. The early years of a child’s development will strongly influence his or her career path later in life. Therefore, the environment plays a major role in steering a child’s interest towards science. Families, parents, role models and mentors will be indispensable in germinating and nurturing this interest. More importantly, a society that fosters a scientific culture will be necessary to ensure that this interest will be sustained. In Tsukuba, for instance, the city has an annual summer program called “Tsukuba Chibikko Hakase,” where children are encouraged to visit scientific research institutes throughout the city, thus earning their “Junior Dr.” titles. Just imagine how would it be, if in the Philippines, there would be such numerous opportunities for a child to be exposed to science at an early age? Just imagine if a child can take advantage of rich opportunities to marvel at how things work, as explained by a real-life scientist? Perhaps we would have a higher ratio of scientists per unit population. Indeed it is unwise to think that only schools should be responsible for the science education of our children. Science is not and should not be confined within the four rooms of the classroom.
There are lessons to be learned from the stories of real-life scientists (though not our own), and through their experiences we may find clues on how to foster our children today so that they can become scientists tomorrow. Free videos can be downloaded from the link below.
Spellbound – How Kids Became Scientists
Spellbound is a video series that tells the story of scientists whose childhood curiosity about everyday things helped them launch careers in the lab, win Nobel Prizes, and make other achievements. Their curiosity, mentors, role models, and other early childhood experiences may point to approaches that can be used today, and tomorrow, in encouraging young people into careers in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.