May 03, 2016
By Greg Danner, Director of Education and Science
One of the great things about science is that we can use it to answer a variety of questions. We can find out how much methane is trapped in Alaska permafrost, what metabolic processes allow ground squirrels to survive the winter, and how solar wind affects the Northern lights. But this is not where science starts for most of us. Science starts when, as children, we knock over a tower of blocks, repeatedly drop our spoon from the high chair, and greet each of these and other new experiences with genuine surprise.
Reawakening that sense of wonder is one of the museum’s primary goals. When an adult realizes that what seemed to be a rock in a marine tank is actually a marine animal, we’ve recreated that childlike moment of surprise, and with it, an opportunity to challenge assumptions.
I see teens try to keep bubbles airborne by waving their hands beneath the soapy blobs, which actually makes them fall faster. That moment offers a chance to learn, to explore, and to talk about Bernoulli.
As partners in UAA’s annual Brain Bee, we work with many such teens. As a year-round destination for families with children, Spark!Lab, TOTE KidSpace, and the Discovery Center provide myriad opportunities for developing science skills.
Perhaps the best thing I see though, is not someone’s “Eureka!” moment. Instead, it is watching someone pause, think and discover the science behind the dip-netting, camping or hiking they did last weekend.
As long as people keep asking questions, we can keep using science to help them discover answers.