I recently had the chance to ask twenty 9th and 10th graders at Flushing International High School why they participate in an after-school science club. “Is it because you want to be scientists when you grow up?” I asked. The collective answer was “No.” Surprised? I was. And what surprised me was how sophisticated their motivation for learning about science was:
To be able to solve any problem using scientific thinking.
To understand the way things work.
To understand their own health issues and the way their own bodies work.
The only anticipated response that I got was: To help me get into college.
But, even that one student’s response should give us all hope for the future. These kids totally get it. At ages 15 and 16, they know that science contributes to so many different aspects of our lives. Moreover, they get that by studying science — developing and executing research experiments — they are enhancing their ability to understand more about themselves and the world in which they live. And that’s good news for all of us, because that means they are developing their minds to question, to reason and to make educated decisions.
These students are drawing on educational resources and teacher training sessions developed by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s DNA Learning Center. They are a perfect example of how CSHL DNALC’s mission to prepare students and families to thrive in the gene age is making a difference.
Science isn’t just for scientists. Wow — what a concept. It’s one concept that seems so basic but is actually so very sophisticated when juxtaposed with contemporary facts and figures about declining public support for scientific research and the relative weakness of science education in our nation’s schools.
More power to the Flushing International School Science club – its students and teachers. Thanks for sharing your curiosity and enthusiasm with us!
Dagnia Zeidlickis is the Vice President of Communications at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.