5 Jul 2013

Talking Science with Kids

By Claire Eamer

This blog, in a slightly different form, first appeared on the Eamer Science Services website (where I masquerade as a writer of science for grown-ups), but I thought it might be worth repeating the main points here.

I spent most of May touring Ontario and talking about science with kids, mainly because one of my kids’ science books, Lizards in the Sky: Animals Where You Least Expect Them, was nominated for an award in the Ontario Library Association’s annual Forest of Reading competition.

This was my first Forest of Reading nomination, and it was awesome! It’s a children’s choice award, which means that kids all over Ontario read the books and vote for their favourites. Even if you don’t win (I didn’t), you still win, because schools and libraries buy your books and kids read them.

And, I found, they read with enthusiasm!

I gave presentations at several schools on the Niagara Peninsula to audiences from kindergarten to Grade 8. In one case, the whole K-to-8 school was — rather alarmingly — in the audience. At a Toronto library, the mid-week afternoon audience ranged in age from two to roughly 70. To my amazement and pleasure, all the audiences were interested, attentive, courteous, full of questions, and enthusiastic about science.

Toward the end of the month, I even spent an afternoon at the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa, talking with kids and adults about animals, habitat, evolution, and the sheer joy of learning about all of them.

The Forest of Reading wraps up with a two-day Festival of Reading at Harbourfront in Toronto. Thousands of kids and teachers attend, cheering on their favourite authors, swapping books, collecting autographs, getting their photographs taken with authors, and generally talking books-books-books with anyone and everyone.

The whole experience was immensely encouraging to someone who cares about books and about science. Books are not dead. The kids love ‘em, in whatever form they find them. And they love science. Both the kids and adults I talked to were full of smart, interesting questions about the science in Lizards in the Sky, and full of enthusiasm for the diversity of life that the book celebrates.

My take-away message from a month of touring? If we can talk about science in an accessible way, people — both kids and adults — are more than ready to listen.

1 comment:

E.S. Ivy said...

Agree! Kids still somehow get the idea that science is "hard" but if you sneak it up on them, they find out how interesting it is.