19 February 2011

Cool Science

Back in high school I had the typical teenage attitude towards sciences and math - apathetic to say the least. More inclined towards arts and social sciences, I opted out of the so-called "geeky" courses and headed directly down the path towards a career in communications. What I never realized at the time, was that my future would actually combine my passion for writing and public speaking with science. How ironic that I should end up communicating about something that I was all too eager to ditch in my youth.

I think my initial attitude towards science is not dissimilar to many students. Just take one look at recent Canadian statistics and you will see that there is a steady decline in admissions for post-secondary studies in science. Sadly, what I have only come to realize as an adult and through working in R&D communications, is that science opens doors to a world of exciting career opportunities. The moment a student opts of of senior science classes, they are effectively eliminating a plethora of really cool jobs.

It is difficult to pinpoint where the disconnect happens. Perhaps students have too much control over their course of studies; maybe they should be forced to learn the "classics" to gain a broader appreciation of all disciplines. In my opinion, a good deal of the "problem" can be attributed to how we parent. Schools provide a basis for learning but parents need to nurture and round out that education by providing children with opportunities to learn and experience the world around them....not always easy when we're constantly linked in to the office on our handheld devices.

As a parent I pose this challenge to others - get out there! See what is going on in your city. Bring your child to your local science museum, try out some fun experiments in your kitchen, take a walk on a local trail and examine the world around you - the experience need not cost anything. It you instill this sense of exploration in your children at a young age, you are teaching them above and beyond anything they will learn in a classroom.

Looking for something fun and FREE this weekend in Ottawa, why not check out Cool Science Saturday as part of the 2011 Ottawa Winterlude Festival. Families can enjoy a variety of interactive exhibits featuring some of Canada's "coolest" science related to our chilly northern climate.

Give you child the gift of discovery and they will give the world the gift of ingenuity.

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