Saturday, March 23, 2013

Making Science a Cultural Activity

 Why are so many of us afraid of Science?
Is it because we never got comfortable with the jargon? Never had a hands-on experience? Thought of Science as a "Club" that we had to be invited into?

So many of the hobbies of 19th and 20th century middle and upper class people were enthusiasms that grew into scientific disciplines: Paleontology (Mary Anning in Lyme Regis, UK), Ornithology (John James Audubon), Botany (A.R. Wallace), for example.

Boys (usually) in the 1950s were given chemistry sets, electric train sets, radio kits, with proscribed projects to build and create. In this way they developed an interest in MAKING THINGS.

Girls learned to sew, knit, cook, garden. These were practical skills that frequently became lifelong passions.

Admittedly, these pursuits were gender-segregated, but now, even with an awareness of the need to expose both genders to the full complement of interests,  the decline in Practical Arts classes in schools and the increasing consumerism of technology, has many of us - children, teens AND adults - deprived of the passion for any hobbies at all! We work, eat sleep, and consume technology.

Let's get it back!  That's part of the driving force behind the Makerspace Movement.

At Sprout & Co., a group of young MIT trained Maker enthusiasts are helping public and private groups re-discover the fascination of scientific tinkering. We have spoken with Alec Resnick, one of the founders, who is going to help us plan a strategy for bringing electronic tinkering and scientific exploration into the realm of Young Adult Programming here at the Duxbury Free Library. We're interested in other forms of creation as well, but feel that this is an area sadly lacking in the stable of experiences our young people get during their formative years.

What do you think?

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