Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Weather Watching Is Science

To my son Tommy,

You got a job the other day at school. You were the official "Weather Watcher" for your class which, from what I can gather, means you got to look out the window and pick the icon to put up on the cork board for the weather that day. You said you picked sunny and we started having a conversation about your choices. Evidently cold is not one of the options. Then our conversation took a turn for the worse.

I simply pointed out that weather watching was science. This didn't fit into your definition of science in school. I suppose you have a set science time and since this falls outside of that curiculum, it can't be science. Hell hath no fury like a five year old having his certain knowledge challenged by his daddy. Granted, I will give you that meteorology is not an exact science, especially in the state of Maryland where it is more in tune with soothsayers and horoscopes. Despite that downfall of our local "weather watchers", it is still considered science.

In fact most of what you are doing these days and prior, in your job of growing and learning, can fall under science. You are observing and cataloging and predicting and testing your predictions and conclusions. When you try a new food, when you test your mother's patience, when you mix colors on your drawing, all of it is science. If more parents simply pointed that out to their children, more children would not grow up fearing science. Science is the process of questioning and learning. Science is not knowledge, though that is the hopeful result. Of course that knowledge might be how NOT to do something, which was the result of many of your old man's experiments and life experiences.

We as parents need to teach this process of questioning and learning and science to our kids. Record the temperatures, classify different objects into groups, ask your child what he thinks would happen if...and then have him find out if he is really doesn.  In my case, this means resisting the urge to answer your questions and make you work for your own answers. Every toddler is a natural scientist and with a little encouragement and some minimal guidance and simply pointing out when your child is being a scientist, this natural curiosity will bloom into a life long love of learning. Now it is time to do some weather watching for the family because ten to twelve inches of the white shroud is predicted for the Baltimore area, which means we will get nada or three feet.

Sincerely with love from your dad,

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