“Daddy, what’s science?”
We were laying on the bed in the guest room, and Mia was getting ready for a nap.
“Well, honey, science is when you study things and try to figure out how they work. There are lots of different types of science. Biologists study animals and plants. Paleontologists study dinosaur bones. Astrophysicists study the moon and the stars and look at the night sky through big telescopes.”
“I wish we had s telescope.”
“Doctors do science, too. They study how our bodies work and learn what makes us sick and how to make us better.”
“I want to be a science teacher when I grow up!”
“Science is so important! We need science teachers–and scientists–to do lots of cool things. Like…”
And I found myself impassioned, laying out the nobility of a subject I had not seriously cared about since childhood, when I, too, had wanted to be in a laboratory mixing chemicals together madly to see the unknown results–before I realized the less-rigorous way of Liberal Arts was my real calling.
I told her about astronauts, about John Glenn and the Apollo missions and how her Pap-Pap had been a little boy when Neil Armstrong took the first human step on the moon. I talked about why we needed to explore, how learning about the heavens is learning about ourselves because, as Moby said, we are all made of stars. I’ll even cop to being a smidge teary about it. I felt like Neil Degrasse Tyson emphasizing the importance of scientific dreams. I hugged her and told her we’d look at these things together, that I would show her how beautiful the universe is and what science has taught us about it.
This monologue surprised me, Mr. History-and-the Arts. I found myself advocating STEM–Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math–not because I need Mia to be a doctor or an astrophysicist–but because i want her to live in a world where science is valued, not treated like the nerdy bastard stepchild of our idiot culture. I am not a scientist, but I wish I was that cool, that smart, that important to society.
Her eyes getting heavy, Mia hugged my arm and said, “I want to know more about this. Tell me when I wake up.”.
And I will.
First of all, you owe it to yourself to watch the video I linked to in the body of the article. It is beautiful, eloquent, and moving. Dr. Tyson is one of the most persuasive speakers I’ve heard in the promotion of STEM.
Secondly, thanks to MostGenuinely and Unhappy Mommy who tipped me to some They Might Be Giants kids’ music about science. Those videos got this whole conversation started. My favorite is “Roy G. Biv”, which is catchy and perfect for a little girl into rainbows.]