The Big Think

June 4, 2009

Mad Scientist Extraordinaire

Filed under: Education,Mad Science,Politics,Science — jasony @ 8:32 pm

Theo Grey, on why dangerous science at home may be the savior of science education.

Sports, especially at the high school level, are extremely dangerous. So many children are injured on a regular basis that you don’t even hear about it. Many of these injuries are relatively minor, just a broken bone or perhaps a torn ligament that puts the child in a cast for a few months. But a substantial number cause permanent disability and death.

This carnage could easily be avoided by switching to video football. Graphics are very realistic these days; students could study tackles from all angles in complete safety. Gymnastics students could do their routines on a Wii Fit board, and video screens are readily available for exercise bicycles, eliminating open-road bicycle riding, a major killer of children.

You know I’m kidding. No one can seriously deny the value of actual physical education and exercise, and unfortunately, no matter how safe you try to make it, accidents, including bad accidents, happen. That’s part of life.

But this is precisely what has happened to science education. Precisely. Virtually all experiments involving chemicals more dangerous that cabbage juice have been eliminated from the curriculum. And, yes, they have been replaced by elaborate video simulations that let you choose which of two beakers to mix together, then show you what happens.

This is all very safe, but there is a price to pay: death and misery for millions. And this time I’m not kidding. We have turned science, which should be the most exciting, the most engaging, the most relevant hour of the school day, into a deathly boring series of lectures and video games. Is it any wonder kids would rather become accountants, when chartered accountancy is made to seem like a more exciting profession than science?

Read the whole thing.

When students enter a science classroom, they should see things they cannot imagine in their wildest dreams.


Filed under: Mad Science — jasony @ 8:13 pm

Solid mercury castings. Cool! Literally.

Current Reading

Filed under: Current Reading — jasony @ 12:15 am

Watchmen. Just finished it tonight. Finally I can watch the trailers for the movie.

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