Today I took my 2 year old daughter to the Kitchener Children’s Museum. Every day when she wakes up, the first words out of her mouth are “bubbles, bubbles.” This is because her favourite part of the museum are some large water columns that bubbles trickle up. Lights, plastic fish, and even marbles help to make these bubbles magical.
Besides being a cool place to hang out with pre-pubescent individuals, it is actually a neat example of how science can be made friendly. Kids learn about currents from a very cool water table…ah, who am I kidding, I’m the one playing with the water table. It’s a great way to learn how fluids react to manmade structures and see what works and what doesn’t in a mock-up sized world.
Up one level from the water table is a shuttle flight simulator. The chairs shake, the engines roar in your ears, and you can see a whole dashboard full of gauges and buttons as the shuttle launches into space.
On the same level is an infrared video camera that projects your body heat onto a television. When my wife joined us later, her hands were a dark blue from the cold walk to the museum. And, just beside the infrared video booth is a glow in the dark room. The wall glows in the dark, and when a bright flash of light goes off, you can see your shadow projected on the wall. A great way to show kids (and adults) about various types of light.
But, I have to wonder whether it is good to advertise science as kid’s play. Science museums are incredibly popular with children, and it’s no wonder with all the dinosaur bones, robots, and volcanoes. With adults it seems that art museums are more the norm. Why has science, imagination, creativity and the quest for knowledge been relegated to kindergarten? Why do we subconsciously as a society tell our kids to grow up and forget science?