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Kids Still Think In Australia — Why Now?
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Kids Still Think In Australia

The ABC has a nice story about an elementary school student: Eureka moment for Fox in the henhouse

A year five student who made a discovery about a new kind of link between protein and eggs was among those honoured at last night’s Eureka Prize ceremony for excellence in science.

Inspiration can come from unexpected places, and for Ignatius Fox it came when his chickens suddenly laid bigger eggs after breaking into the worm farm.

“So we thought that the worms would give protein to them so we tried giving protein to give the big eggs and it worked,” Ignatius said.

Dr Karl Kruszelnicki, who presented the award, thinks the student’s insight puts him ahead of many adults.

“So we’ve got an 11-year-old person who’s made an observation, accidental observation, then formed a hypothesis and then tested it out as opposed to certain radio jocks who’ll say, gee, it was warm now and it’s colder tonight, therefore there’s no such thing as global warming,” he said.

This is the scientific method in action – ask the question, formulate an answer, devise a test for your answer. That’s what many US states don’t want schools to teach anymore because it’s ‘controversial’.

[BTW, the headlines at ABC can be better than the stories. Humor, for a given meaning of humor, is not discouraged.]


1 Steve Bates { 08.30.12 at 12:59 am }

Good on Australia!

I’ve been reading books and thinking… an unpopular combination in America today. I noticed our local public library, which is on the whole not horrible, has multiple copies of several of Tim LaHaye’s novels in my local branch library alone, but only about four of Richard Dawkins’s books… in the whole HPL system. I’m reading Brian Greene’s popular books, in order; I’m now on The Fabric of the Cosmos… I bought two of his books and received one as a gift, because HPL can’t bother to have sufficient copies of books by one of the finest… and most approachable… science writers in the world today.

Bryan, when you and I were young, American science was great, and I’m not using the term casually. Now, with all the god-botherers in positions of power, it feels as if we’re not even half trying. This isn’t going to cut it. I don’t like the sound of the labels sure to come: America the third-world nation. America the has-been. America the ignorant.

I’ve been trying to think of how to reverse the trend, and wondering if we could sell science as magic: “You think Harry Potter is mystifying? Try quantum entanglement!” Something has to inspire the kids, and Bill Nye, as good as he is, is getting old along with the rest of us…

2 Bryan { 08.30.12 at 11:38 am }

Arthur C. Clarke’s Third Law: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

We just need to sell it that way. I’ve done it with clients who say they want to understand something, but really don’t and are wasting my time without being willing to pay for it.

If they persist, I start them on the road of binary math and transistors as switches. I had a board rigged with toggle switches and LEDs to form a half-adder, then a board using relays, one using transistors, and then a half-adder chip. Too many preferred ‘magic’.

When they made all of the science toys ‘safe’ for kids, they took the fun out. Creating messes and having exciting things happen was what made science interesting. No one wants to take a risk any more, so we are sliding back into the ‘dark ages’ of Puritanism.