by Cheryl Jackson Thursday April 16, 2009

When my youngest daughter was about four years old, she created a bug museum.   She collected as many different kinds of bugs as she could find, and glued them on to a board.    I helped her name them, and then we made posters to put up around the neighbourhood  - "Come and see my bug museum!"

There must have been better entertainment in the neighbourhood that afternoon, because only two people came, but they made all the difference to my daughter.  The father and his two-year-old son joined us on our back deck and thoroughly studied the bug museum.  The dad didn't speak much with me.  Instead, he focused on my daughter, asked her questions about her bugs and took the whole thing very seriously.   I was so impressed.  My daughter was thrilled.   

What happens to that natural curiosity that all young kids seem to have?   Can you imagine a 12-year-old collecting bugs, or plants, or electronic parts, and sharing their excitement with neighbours?   When they get to high school, it's even worse.  Fewer kids are choosing science courses, and the careers that follow.

Literacy and numeracy have taken up much of the curriculum in elementary schools these days, leaving little time for the kind of science that kids crave - the messy, dirty, hands-on kind of science that really teaches kids about the world around them.   Instead, kids are expected to learn about leaves and bugs from books.  They turn off, and never go back.

Join us on Your Voice when we talk to three people who say our future depends on hooking kids on science early, and keeping them there.