This time? It’s a podcast episode! Token Skeptic #147 – On Being Born To Do Science – Interview With Laurie Tarr
Laurie Tarr is a stay-at-home mom with two kids. She has a B.S. in physics from Centre College and works part-time as a science educator for Mad Science of Kentucky. Along with her husband Rob, she founded theLouisville Area Skeptics in 2009, where she organizes Louisville Science Café, a monthly science outreach program for the public.
She also organizes Born to Do Science Kentuckiana, a monthly science outreach program for children in the Kentucky and Southern Indiana area.
Part of the interview follows:
Kylie: Do we have to go out and buy the latest scientific gadgets to get kids engaged? When I was out shopping, I’d been trying to write a blog post in regards to things that you can do to encourage your kids in science. And books, I’m OK with. Books, I know. I can go down to the book seller and ask the book seller or talk to Embiggen Books and say “Hey, what’s out there for kids?”
But I went down to my local store and the biggest seller was apparently this Make Your Own Combustion engine, and I thought… it was huge. And I was thinking – jeez, really? And I thought how many parents are just going be spending all of Boxing Day putting this damn thing together and the kids are just playing with the box? I mean, or playing with the iPad instead because who cares? It’s a combustion engine. But instead – “look at this, it’s Angry Birds!”, you know?
Laurie: Yeah. No, I don’t think you need to go out and buy all of the science kits, and you can if you’d like! That’s fine! But I think that there is science in everything we do. There is science in the world all around us. And I tell kids that. When I’m teaching them, I’ll say OK, today we’re going to do art, and they’re saying “Oh, I thought we were going to do science?” And I say “But science is in art,” – and they say “What??” And I say that science is in everything.
I say “Think of anything, talk to me about it, and I can tell you the science in it.” And that’s something that’s kids don’t always realise, and I think maybe that’s something that grownups don’t always realise – that science is not a separate topic. Science is everything everywhere. And so you can go in the kitchen and cooking is science. And you can make concoctions in the kitchen… you know, that whole Mentos and Diet Coke thing, that’s science. And you can have science in the bath tub. You can make waves and splashing and all sorts of different things.
You can have science out in the yard. There’s physics in bouncing a ball; there’s physics in riding a bike. There’s science, there’s physics, there’s chemistry, there’s biology everywhere around us all the time, and I think the hardest thing is just to be conscious of that and to point it out. I can do an entire hour’s lecture science class on the science of balloons.
I have easily twenty-five different things that I can do with balloons that have to do with science. And it doesn’t take a lot of fancy equipment and it doesn’t take a Ph.D. It’s just me and some balloons and a few other gadgets, and me and the kids – we have a great time! And they learn physics and they learn chemistry and they learn action and reaction and they learn electrostatics and they learn all sorts of things.
One source of great stuff like this is YouTube. YouTube is just amazing – there is no science that you can think of that you can’t search on YouTube and find a video that somebody else has taken.
Louisville Area Skeptics – http://www.louisvilleareaskeptics.com/
Born to Do Science Kentuckiana – https://www.facebook.com/BtDSKentuckiana
Mad Science – http://www.madscience.org/
Monty Harper – http://www.montyharper.com/index.html
YouTube Channel for easy, at-home science: http://www.youtube.com/user/SteveSpanglerScience