The Flame Challenge
Last week I was reading Science and I came across a touching editorial by Alan Alda – the actor.
His concern is a basic one that nearly all of us share: how do we connect in a fundamentally human way to non-scientists, especially children, about science?
If a child asks you: What is a candle flame? You can’t tell her “oxidation” or “self-sustaining combustion” because those words mean nothing to her, they drain the question-answer experience of warmth, and ultimately discourage further such questions.
So, how would you answer the child in a way that avoids those pitfalls?
This is the question posed by Alda, and in fact the starting point of a serious exercise to connect scientists with schoolchildren in a way that promotes the beauty of Nature and an interest in science. There is an outreach program and a contest and an opportunity to make suggestions and provide feedback. Go to http://www.flamechallenge.org/ to get involved.