by Theodore Gray, December 11, 2009 8:55 AM
Science is the most powerful force on earth. Science and science alone can move mountains, cure disease, land on the moon, and explain who we are and where we came from. Not love, not religion, not Zen meditation, not new age crystals, only science actually gets the job done. So why do students so often find their science class to be the most boring one of the day?
Science is an undeniable force for good in the world. It's easy to forget sometimes just how bad things were before science, and how bad they could get again if science falls by the wayside in the ebb and flow of civilizations. (And don't think for a minute that it can't happen. Assuming science will always be there is like assuming the housing market will never go down. The ancient Greeks knew the earth went around the sun; how long did it take for Kepler to rediscover that?)
If you have recently not died of a bacterial infection, and you want your children to enjoy the same freedom to not die of simple infections, you need to support robust, hands-on science education at every level, but particularly in middle and high school when students are forming ideas about what they want to do with their lives. This whole civilization thing only keeps going if every new generation grows up willing, able, and interested enough to do their part.
By robust, I mean science taught by scientists for students who want to be scientists when they grow up, or at least be people with a deep knowledge and appreciation of science.
By hands-on, I mean classes where students confront and engage the real stuff of science — chemicals, rockets, lasers, spectroscopes, and vats of goo — up close and personal.
Science is not primarily about facts, formulas, and figures. It's a physical skill, something you need to wrap your brain around with lots of practice. Teaching science exclusively with lectures and books is no more sensible than teaching music or gymnastics out of a book. You've got to get out and do it.
Students find typical science classes boring because they are boring. How could a class not be boring when it concentrates on all the trivial details instead of what matters? At the secondary school level, science should be taught in the lab or out in the field learning about how the world works.
There is a place, and ultimately an absolute requirement, for extended, deep study of mathematics, physics, and all the marvelous formulas that have been worked out over the centuries. They are what distinguish science from speculation, and mathematics is, of course, ultimately the only way to truly understand the workings of the universe. But that place comes after the student has gained an intuitive understanding of the phenomena they will be learning to describe mathematically.
Watch Richard Feynman explain nearly anything. He starts by describing an imaginary scene, perhaps a bug floating on the water, or a ball with hair on it. Once you know the answer because you can visualize what the bug would experience, or how the hair would lie on the ball, then and only then are you ready to start writing down the math, because only then will you be able to understand what it really means.
All of science is like that. It is absolutely pointless to talk about Newton's laws if you have not yet gotten a firm visceral grasp on what happens when you throw things, or swing them, or drop them, or shoot them up in a rocket. And once you are faced with a problem, like getting a rocket or cannonball to go where you want it to go, no one needs to convince you of the value of Newton's laws, or pressure you to learn them.
As discussed in yesterday's post, there is a great dearth of hands-on science in schools. What can be done about this? In the spirit of the Earth Island Institute's list of "50 Really Hard Things You Can Do to Save the Earth," here is my list.
First, there needs to be a radical rethinking of teacher education and certification. A professional teacher generically trained to teach by a school of education is not qualified to teach science. Laws and funding levels should be fixed to encourage people with real scientific qualifications to take up teaching, or at least to be available for enrichment programs. Perhaps when China sends the first man to Mars we'll get another Sputnik effect, but should it really be necessary for us to experience a shock to do the right thing?
Second, we need to overcome the liability issues that come with doing lab work in school. My suggestion? Make the best science classes optional and competitive, the same way being on the football team is. Set up a class with a really good teacher, and lay out the curriculum: First week we're going to study redox reactions, particularly the aluminothermic reductions of iron and titanium. Second week we'll learn how to make gunpowder, then try to understand its complex chemistry. Third week, how the heck are we going to get that brick to land on the far side of the football field using only seven sticks and a freshman?
Students would clamor to get in, and their parents would sign the release forms, just as they do for numerous other potentially hazardous childhood activities, from rock climbing to summer camp. Some would just be tourists, but those students would be weeded out by the rigorous study required to succeed in these hard-core classes.
Actually what I'm describing isn't pie in the sky, it exists in quite a few places in the form of, for example, robotics competition clubs, where students work for months together with professional scientists and engineers to build robots that battle each other out in a national competition.
But there's just nowhere near enough of this kind of thing going on, and nearly all of it is outside of school. There are six or more hours a day of time being wasted on half-baked education; let's not restrict the real stuff to after school programs available only to a few privileged kids. There need to be classes like this in every public school, especially in the poorer districts where students have few other opportunities. How many billions of dollars would this cost? I don't know, but it would be a drop in the bucket compared to just about any federal expenditure you might choose to compare it to.
It was great to hear the President just a few weeks ago articulate a commitment to fixing science education. Hopefully new money and new enthusiasm will be forthcoming. But it's going to take a lot more than a couple of speeches.
Everyone involved in the enterprise of science can do their part to help shape public opinion in favor of better science education. I do my part by writing for Popular Science magazine with a relentlessly pro-science attitude, and publishing the occasional volume of science porn, like my most recent book, The Elements (which I believe has given at least a few non-scientists a new appreciation
by Theodore Gray, December 10, 2009 9:00 AM
How many children dying each year from school science experiments do you think is an acceptable number?
I recently heard a radio report on the FDA's proposal to require treatment of raw oysters to prevent the roughly 13 deaths that occur every year from bacterial contamination. A number of people were perfectly happy to go on the radio and argue, in so many words, that these 13 people dying every year was not enough of a reason to require pasteurization of oysters, because hey, they just don't taste as good if they've been irradiated or heat treated.
Can you imagine someone going on the radio and arguing that it's OK for a dozen or so students to die every year in order to ensure that we have robust science education?
Far be it from me to be that person, but seriously, how do we reconcile this disparity? Do people really think a marginal improvement in the taste of raw shellfish is more important than the future of human civilization?
For the record, the actual number of students killed by science classes each year is pretty darn close to zero. It has happened in the last couple of decades, but very, very rarely. Even before the age of hyper-protectiveness, the fatality rate in science classes was a tiny fraction of that in, say, football practice, where death and permanent disability are comparatively routine. Yet laboratory science classes have been all but eliminated from schools, with safety being an oft-cited reason.
There are a number of ways to help understand why people might think it's OK to die for oysters but not for science.
People are well known to look at and evaluate risks in ways that make little sense in the cold light of reason. For example, if oysters were born pre-pasteurized and someone invented a process that would make them taste a bit better, but it killed 13 people a year, very few people (other than the French) would stand up to say that was a good idea.
And people are significantly more risk-averse when it comes to their children than they are about themselves. I know people who never wear seatbelts, but their babies ride in elaborate safety seats, properly strapped in.
Furthermore, people generally feel it's fine for adults to do risky things if they choose to. A dozen or two people die skiing every winter in Colorado, but that's not really considered a problem by anyone involved. There are special laws to protect the ski resorts from liability, and fatalities, while tragic, are generally rationalized as occurring when people aren't being careful, so it's their own fault.
So, clearly there is a significant difference between an adult choosing to eat a ticking oyster bomb, and a school assigning a child to do a required activity at school.
But all this is really not a good enough explanation. People take their children skiing all the time, knowing full well the risks. School football programs may be voluntary, but P.E. classes are generally required, and while they may not rise to the level of football in degree of roughness, they are certainly significantly more dangerous than social studies, or science.
I think the real key to the puzzle is fear of the unknown, combined with a general apathy about the value of science.
When you understand a danger, you automatically feel more comfortable taking it on. Crashing into a tree at high speed is not difficult to understand, and therefore skiers accept the concept of trees dotting the slopes and work to avoid them. Avalanches, on the other hand, are mysterious to most people, so skiers fear them more than trees, even though far more are killed by trees than by avalanches.
Sadly, science is largely an unknown to a large portion of the population. Chemicals are things to be feared and despised. Say "acid" and people think bubbling vats of death, even if they just drank a healthy dose of citric acid for breakfast. It's really, really difficult to explain to someone why their child should spend a month playing with acids when that person's main conception of acids is formed by watching the way James Bond dispatches villains.
And when ignorance is combined with apathy, the conclusion seems all too obvious. Why take any risk at all, no matter how tiny, if you don't see the value of what you get for it? Skiing is fun. Football builds character and teamwork. Science gives you...what, exactly?
In tomorrow's post I will tell you why I think it's so important that science education be robust, including serious lab classes at the middle and high school level, and yes, I will defend those classes being no less dangerous than getting out of bed in the morning.
by Theodore Gray, December 9, 2009 9:00 AM
When science was first invented, its creators saw it work hand in hand with art and literature to seek out the deep truths of the world. What went wrong?
Joseph Banks, founder of the Royal Society, and Humphry Davy, prominent among the first professional chemists, were good friends with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Wordsworth, and Mary Shelley. While Banks and Davy were creating the idea of science as a professional occupation, these poets and authors were busy incorporating the latest scientific discoveries into their works. Shelley's Frankenstein was the first science fiction novel, simply because Shelley was the first author who had a scientist to consult with.
Both sides of this collaboration saw the other as vital to their efforts. The poets needed scientists to enlighten them with new truths (new ideas having been in desperately short supply since the Greeks said pretty much everything there is to say about the world and human nature without the aid of science). The scientists, in turn, needed poets to make connections between their work and broader humanity, to warn them against an overly mechanical interpretation of the world, and to spread the word about new discoveries to a wider audience.
Although both sniped at each other from time to time, neither side saw a fundamental conflict or split between science and the arts: Each respected the other for its contributions. How impoverished in comparison is the current situation, with scientists viewing artists as lightweights, and artists having such distain of science that the notion of a science fiction novel winning a literary award is as far-fetched as some of that genre's plot lines.
Some artists are, in fact, lightweights, poseurs, and hangers-on (but then, so are a number of scientists). But many artists are making valuable contributions, not only aesthetically, but also scientifically. Visualizations are an example: An eye for color, and willingness to put effort into presentation, have led many a scientist to a better understanding of their own work.
Conversely, not all science is ugly tables of numbers and dead rats. From the astonishing worlds within worlds of the Mandelbrot set, to the sublime insights into human nature offered by the Freakonomics style of on-the-street economics research, science continues to offer art and literature an endless series of surprising, marvelous, horizon-expanding ideas to work with.
Although science and art have been at odds for centuries, since beginning their divergence even during the Romantic era of Davy and Coleridge, there has always been some dialog between the two. With the widespread deployment of computer technology they are working together more closely today than in quite some time.
An artist wishing to make an animated movie in which things move naturally has no choice but to use a "physics engine," modeling software that simulates the motions of real objects. A scientist wishing to publicize her latest work on a NOVA show has no choice but to enlist the aid of a visual artist to help create dynamic animations and visualizations that interpret her results.
Perhaps nowhere are art and science more closely mingled than in the world of photography. All photographers have to come to an understanding of the physics of light. My favorite book on photographic lighting reads almost like an optics textbook (Light: Science and Magic: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting).
And nearly all scientists sooner or later end up documenting their work with some form of photography, and thus sooner or later come to the realization that there is an art to taking a good photograph, one that communicates your idea and maybe gets you on the cover of Nature.
My book Mad Science, and the Popular Science magazine column on which it is based, are very much collaborations between art and science. I contribute the science, but my column and book would not be what they are without the contribution every month of the top notch commercial photographers I work with. They bring the subject to life and help communicate it to the public, just as Coleridge brought the chemical ideas of Davy to life ("... so water and flame, the diamond, the charcoal, and the mantling champagne, with its ebullient sparkles, are convoked and fraternized by the theory of the chemist") and Shelley brought Faraday's electricity literally to life with her monster. (How's that for pretentiously associating my poor efforts with the giants of history?)
My most recent book, The Elements, owes a lot to what my co-photographer Nick Mann and I have learned from our interactions with these professional artists. It's basically a collection of fairly humdrum objects, a nodule of cobalt or blob of low-purity silicon, which have been given the same treatment that an advertising photographer gives his subject. The assignment is this: Here's a thing, make it look good! We have applied this ethos to the hundreds and hundreds of objects that appear in the book. Each one is treated like a star, with our goal being to use all the science and art of photography to make it look as attractive and interesting as possible.
In tomorrow's post, I will talk about the importance of recapturing some of the fun of how chemistry was done back in Davy's day: Raw and dangerous.
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Michael Faraday gives a Christmas Lecture at the Royal Institution. The two children in the front row center are the Prince of Wales and the Duke o
by Theodore Gray, December 8, 2009 9:00 AM
It is easy to take for granted that no matter how much we tolerate irrationality, truth will prevail and sanity will win out in the end. The history of civilizations does not bear out this optimism. Without constant vigilance and a willingness to speak out against nonsense, we will be the next major civilization phased out in favor of one more in tune with reality.
For example, it never ceases to amaze me that, of the topics I write about, the one that consistently generates the most reader mail is homeopathy. Very little of it is on my side.
For those not familiar with homeopathy, it is a system based on the idea that if you take a substance that causes a certain problem and dilute it to a preposterous degree, the resulting solution will cure that same problem. For example, if tree pollen causes you to sneeze, a homeopath will take some tree pollen and dilute it so many times that not a single atom of the pollen is left, just plain water. They will then sell you sell this plain water, which contains not a single atom of tree pollen, nor anything else but plain water, as a cure for your sneezing. The great thing is that, thanks to an obscure exception written into consumer protection laws, they get to list the original substance on the label, even though the bottle contains none of it; this really helps with the profit margin. (You might think I'm kidding, but this is seriously the way homeopathy works, and no one denies it. The only thing a professional homeopath would correct about my description is to say that sometimes they dilute with alcohol instead of water, and that you have to do the dilution the right way: Dilute 10-to-1, then knock the bottle on the table, then dilute 10-to-1 again, knock on the table, and repeat, typically between 30 and 50 times, for an overall dilution of 10 to the 30th or 50th power.)
So what I write about homeopathy is, of course, that it's preposterous, nonsensical, and an outright consumer fraud. And this, I am always amazed to see, is controversial. This very blog post will no doubt result in emails telling me I should be more open-minded.
The most serious consequences of belief in homeopathy are largely constrained to the hardcore participants in the delusion, those who use it on serious conditions for which effective treatments exist. These people often suffer needlessly from easily cured problems.
The tragic exceptions are helpless children and pets (yes, pets!) killed, maimed, or tortured to death by their parents' pathological reliance on magical thinking. And homeopathy is just one example of the pervasive and deadly irrationality we've come to accept.
But enumerating the world's many follies is not the job of this humble blog post. My purpose in trashing homeopathy is only to provide a brief demonstration of something that I think is very important. To wit, that people who believe in truth and reason must speak out, and they must be clear and direct. No waffling, no willingness to treat what you know is complete bunk as if it were a respectable alternative viewpoint. In short, no shying away from speaking truth to ignorance.
There is an excellent biography of Al Shanker, the great and controversial teacher-activist, entitled Tough Liberal. It's a marvelous title, because in two words it defines both the man and the malaise of wimpiness that so often afflicts intellectuals and liberals. Shanker is held up as an example of that rarest of birds, a political liberal who could roll with the toughest New York politicians or union thugs and make them look like pansies.
What we need now is a whole generation of Shanker-grade tough guys on the side of science, reason, and all the other things normally advocated by wimps like me.
I don't know why science, the most powerful force on the planet, the discipline that has given us everything from penicillin to the atom bomb to the television that makes every celebrity who they are, has such a hard time defending itself against loudmouthed blowhards who couldn't explain how the microphones they blather into work if their lives depended on it.
But there you have it. With a few shining exceptions, science tends to be advocated by people filled with self-doubt, equivocation, and the common decency to let their opponents speak their piece. These would normally be good things, and maybe some day we can return to talking about truth calmly, but for right now, calm, so far as I can tell, doesn't work. It certainly doesn't work in the popular media where electoral decisions are made.
I've written two books about science for a popular audience (and for the past six years a column for the aptly named Popular Science magazine). Their tone is far less strident than this exaggerated and perhaps over-the-top blog post, but I have made a point of trying not to back off on things like, for example, homeopathy. It's taken time to overcome my natural tendency to be a ninny, but every time the world doesn't end when I get a critical email from someone who is wrong, I grow a little.
Consider this a call to action for all those who stand for truth, justice, and the right of reasonable people to live free from stupid. Don't be cruel to people who don't deserve it, and make absolutely sure you have your facts straight. But don't back down. Tell the truth even if you know some people, even a lot of people, will try to knock you down for it.
You don't have to read much history to realize that things can get very bad very fast when the good citizens choose to remain silent in the face of a belligerent, thuggish minority. So speak up, because lives depend on it, including yours.
In tomorrow's post, I will revert to my normal civil tone and talk about how art and science can work together to create something larger than either alone.
It's only because homeopathy is a fraud that a remedy like this can be sold legally. Possession of any quantity of plutonium is illegal, but that's not a problem for homeopathic plutonium, because "homeopathic" means "there's none of it in
by Theodore Gray, December 7, 2009 1:34 PM
Reading old books of science experiments for children, it's easy to become nostalgic for the days when you could buy jugs of sulfur and mercury at the corner drugstore. But what you may not realize is that we are living in an unprecedented golden age of easy access to science supplies and tools, and there is one simple reason for this: eBay.
What started out as a bazaar for Beanie Baby collectors, eBay has now become the universal marketplace through which a large portion of the world's surplus and odd-lot industrial, medical, scientific, and just plain weird stuff gets sold.
My book The Elements contains something like five or six hundred photographs of objects representing the chemical elements and their applications, and there are over 2,300 on my website, periodictable.com. At least 90% of these objects came from eBay. It simply would not have been practical to create The Elements without it (as evidenced by the fact that no book like it has been done before).
It's not just odd samples of elements you can find on eBay. You can buy complete working scientific instruments, lab equipment, and not a small number of chemicals, supplies, reagents, and exotic tools. This gives anyone, anywhere who has a shipping address and a PayPal account the same access to the tools of discovery as someone living in New York, London, or Tokyo ever had, now or in the past.
And this matters. Great civilizations are built on the backs of tinkerers and dabblers who grow into scientists and entrepreneurs. Half a century ago, a child living in a major city could buy just about anything he needed to experiment in chemistry or demolitions. Such interest and experimentation might easily lead to a career in science. But such opportunities gradually became few and far between, as safety concerns, a general shift away from manufacturing, and finally terrorism paranoia clamped down on the availability of non-consumer items. I watched with mounting dismay as the Army-Navy surplus store in my town drifted steadily away from selling motors, relays, timing mechanisms and other genuine items of military surplus. Sometime in the 1980s the last hard-core mechanical components were replaced with camping gear, and today there's just one counter left that sells military campaign buttons, the rest of the store is filled with designer sporting goods and expensive shoes.
A kid growing up in the 1990s had a very hard time finding the stuff you need to be a kid. How can you make gunpowder if no one will sell you saltpeter? (And you don't know the trick that stump remover is pure potassium nitrate.) How can you build a death ray if all the high-voltage transformers at the corner surplus shop have turned into hiking boots?
But now we have eBay! A kid with an eBay account (and their parent's PayPal password) has at their disposal the richest collection of serious tools for play and discovery that has ever been available to anyone at any time in history. eBay is the Google of stuff. And while it's not free like Google, it's often possible to get fabulous deals on very nice items.
You may read about fraud on eBay, but that's almost entirely restricted to people selling plasma TVs for $18.99. In all the thousands of eBay transactions I've made, I have only once run into a fraudulent seller of weird stuff, and I'm completely reckless in my level of trust. (The fraud was a Minuteman missile thruster that turned out to be stolen rather than surplus as the seller had represented. I had to give it back to the FBI when they came calling.) More common is my experience when I bought an emerald from some guy in South America and the envelope arrived empty. He immediately refunded my money and asked only that I file a report with the post office (the envelope had been cut open and resealed with some kind of postal inspection tape, proving that eBay sellers in Bolivia are more honest than their post office).
I suppose this sounds like a commercial for eBay, but I really feel strongly about it. Especially for young people who want to explore the world of scientific discovery, it's just that good.
In tomorrow's blog post I will flip out on one of my pet peeves: The nonsense that people believe in if they didn't get enough science when they were growing up.
A rocket thruster with a niobium-alloy nozzle. Purchased on eBay and later confiscated by the FBI because it turned out stolen, but much more interesting for that.
An astonishingly beautiful golden chip carrier from eBay.
A lead pipe of a different sort. This smoking pipe made of lead arrived from the eBay seller in Thailand still smelling of
by Theodore Gray, June 2, 2009 3:33 PM
The subtitle of my new book, Mad Science
, is "Experiments You Can Do at Home — But Probably Shouldn't." And I mean it! Although some of the experiments are perfectly harmless things a kid could do unsupervised (as long as you don't mind the monumental messes), others are not. Some would be very unwise for anyone but an experienced chemist to attempt. Most are in between: Potentially dangerous, but OK to try if you're a sensible person being reasonably careful.
Is it irresponsible to write a mass-market book that describes how to do dangerous science experiments? It used to be very common. I have books from the early 1800s through the mid 1900s that would make your hair stand on end. One 1930s book from none other than the Popular Science Press includes the recipe for Armstrong's mixture, a friction-sensitive explosive notorious for blowing hands off while it's being mixed.
But that's ancient history now. Books of home science, and even classroom chemistry at the high school level, are filled with baking soda and vinegar science. The Dangerous Book for Boys, for example, is completely devoid of danger.
Surely recommending only perfectly safe experiments is a good thing, isn't it?
Let's talk about football. 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?
The inevitable result is the well-documented decline in students entering universities to study science. But even worse is the equally well-documented decline in the understanding and appreciation of science by the general public.
For evidence of the harm this does, you need look no further than the ongoing series of flaming disasters we call policy debates, the ridiculous decline in the quality of textbooks, and the precipitous rise in quack medicine and bunkum of all kinds. We may be saturated with information, but we are also living in an age of ignorance unmatched in centuries. I am completely serious in saying that I believe not a small part of the blame can be laid at the feet of our eviscerated science curriculum, which has undone in one generation the progress of the past 200 years.
People die because of this. Entire ecosystems, maybe our whole planet, are at risk if we don't start teaching people to understand and value the truth and power that a genuine study of science leads to.
When students enter a science classroom, they should see things they cannot imagine in their wildest dreams. Science, done right, is the most amazing, mind-blowing thing we as a species have ever invented, and we need to show our children that. And although some children will be enthralled at a demonstration of how a sheet of paper dipped in water can spread out the colors in pen ink, I'm sorry, that just doesn't do it for me.
But no one who has heard an oxy-hydrogen soap bubble explode in a lecture hall can ever doubt the value of stoichiometric calculations. Do you believe that the Apollo moon rocket ran on diesel fuel, just like a truck? I can show you an experiment that will make you believe it could as easily have run on bacon.
Teachers should be able to do this kind of science, and many would love to, but cannot because of the fear of what would happen if there were ever an accident. A student suffering even a relatively minor injury from a dangerous chemical would be front page news anywhere in the U.S., even if the same student spending a week in the hospital due to a sports injury would go completely unnoticed (unless perhaps he's the star quarterback).
The science teacher would likely lose their job, while the coach would be offered condolences on the loss of their star player.
So, am I advocating the wholesale slaughter of innocents in the name of a better future? No, of course not. But just like any potentially dangerous activity, real meaty science experiments can be done safely enough, if you have well-trained staff and a reasonable budget. A teacher with a real degree in chemistry, and a well-equipped lab with fume hoods and Lexan blast shields, can safely demonstrate a very wide range of dramatic, interesting, and important experiments. There is absolutely no reason we can't have schools, teachers, and classrooms like that; it's simply a matter of deciding that this is what we want.
A class like that can turn a student around, create a new scientist, or at least foster an understanding that science is not just kid stuff; it's about powerful ideas making things happen in the world.
And, sometimes, there will be accidents. Certainly far less often than in school-sponsored sporting events, to say nothing of bicycle riding or, heaven forbid, getting in a car. But accidents will happen, students will be hurt. What I want is to live in a world where a child being hurt in a science classr