One of the questions I’m always asked by reporters and other media folks is, “Why is it important to understand science?”
My answer is generally something like, “It’s important to have a fundamental understanding of how the world works.”
Maybe the best way to explain what I mean is by this example:
If someone told you this is how to bake brownies, you’d say that’s ridiculous. Even a four-year-old could tell you this is not the way to bake brownies. That small child has enough understanding of how to the world works to say this is wrong.
It’s that little voice in the pre-schooler’s head saying, “Nooooo, you have to mix it all up first,” that's we’re teaching in science classes. We're installing that little voice.
It’s really not about facts and such. It’s about having enough information about the world, gathered through systematic observation and experimentation, and then applying that information in a critical way. That’s what we call “science.”
Science is the process not the end result.
If you don’t have this foundational understanding, you have no basis to evaluate what’s happening around you.
At Whiz Kidz parties, some of what we do looks like magic - it’s not. It’s all science. But, we ask kids to think about what’s happening and how they would explain it. I will often joke, “You never thought you’d have to think this hard at a party, did you?”
Once it is safe to start doing science birthday parties and events, we’ll be back and we’ll be asking kids to think about what they’re seeing.
“How did I do that?” I’ll say after a demonstration.
Our goal is to ignite kids’ natural curiosity about the world - for them to access what they already know about how the world works and apply it to what’s happening around them.
That’s why we science!
My plan was to have some fun once in a while making and sharing videos of science experiments for parents and kids. Things didn’t really work out the way I had planned.
The core of Whiz Kidz has always been science-themed entertainment. The spring is usually a really busy time for us - we do a lot of science birthday parties, school, PTO and other events.
All that went away overnight: “Poof!”
Effective March 17, all Massachusetts schools flipped from in-school to at-home learning. This has been hard on everyone - teachers, parents and students. The first few weeks were the hardest. No one knew how to do any of this. It was all new, unfamiliar and a little bit scary.
What I heard from parents was H…E…L…P!
So, I changed gears. Instead of doing a video once in a while, I moved into high gear and produced and posted about ten videos that parents can use to do hands-on science at home with their kids.
The whole point of social distancing is to stay at home and avoid going to the store, so all the experiments are simple and include materials that most people already have at home. Even though the experiments are easy, that doesn’t mean they’re not interesting. We’ve done experiments with surface tension, chemical reactions, magnetism and more
Now, I add a new one each week. I call the videos Saturday Morning Science, because that’s when I post new experiments.
Our videos are being liked and shared on Facebook, aired daily on HC Media, Haverhill’s community access channel, featured on the Merrimack Valley Magazine podcast, and will soon be airing on the Lowell community television station.
The response has been gratifying. I’m just happy to be able to help keep our kids moving forward in these difficult times.
As I say to the kids at all the parties we do: “Whiz Kidz is all about just two things… Science, of course, and Fun!”
We just had to find a different way to do science in a fun way.