by Mike Masnick

Break Dancing And Sideways Baseball Caps Make Science Cool?

from the seems-weak dept

What is it about people that once we grow into adults we forget how to relate to children? With growing worries over our education system, NASA and Honeywell are trying to interest kids in science by putting on multimedia plays that try to make science look cool. While some of the show does sound interesting and informative, a lot of it just sounds like they're trying too hard. Adding "chanting, break dancing, sideways baseball hats and a young actor playing scientist Isaac Newton" just sounds like adults trying to come up with a way to relate to kids. However, it seems like most kids will see through such things. Besides, why try to hide the actual science behind such gimmicks? If you want to interest kids in science by making it cool, then you need to actually make the science cool -- not just the people talking about science. Pretending that science has anything to do with break dancing and sideways baseball caps isn't going to get anyone very far. Focus on making the science itself cool, and the students will be plenty interested.

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  1. identicon
    DGK12, 24 Oct 2005 @ 8:07pm

    No Subject Given

    That's just sick. Try to encourage children to pursue science by showing them being the only delinquent in the field? That's like showing kids how to smoke and asking them to become athletes.

    What they need is someone who is honestly interested in the field and shows some sort of genius for it, not someone trying to make a quick buck while finding cleaver ways to look like they're busy.

    Glad to see NASA has finally joined the Corporate billions. (No wonder they've been failing so miserably lately.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    nonuser, 24 Oct 2005 @ 8:15pm

    middle school is a tough age to reach

    Sure, some kids will react positively to a straight museum presentation but others view the world as cool/lame. I don't blame these guys for trying different approaches to see which one works.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Luke, 24 Oct 2005 @ 8:24pm

    Re: No Subject Given

    That is the reason I watched Bill Nye as a kid. He was quirky, lame jokes, cheesy songs, but everytime I watch it nowadays (which is rare, but sometimes in class) I enjoy it and learn something new.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Zealot, 24 Oct 2005 @ 8:44pm


    These "multimedia presentations" are the kinda stuff that makes me barf. As a poor, disenfranchised High School student with no representation in our democracy, not only can I not slaughter the imbecile who wasted public monies on a rapping Isaac Newton, but I *ALSO* have had to sit through stuff like this. It's painful.

    Please, won't someone JUST THINK OF THE CHILDREN!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    david, 24 Oct 2005 @ 9:15pm


    The idiots upstairs have so much free time and so much money that they don't know what to spend it on. So since they are idiots instead of spending the money on books and quality equipment for classrooms, they run some stupidass PR campaign to fool all the other idiots and politicians that taxpayer money is being spent wisely.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Andy Moreland, 24 Oct 2005 @ 9:19pm

    Pure idiocy

    Yes, I totally agree with the people who think that this campaign is totally unrealistic and moronic. I myself am in middle school, and every single kid will roll their eyes, laugh and talk about "how lame that was" whenever we get something like this.

    Please god, don't make ME sit through this.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Rikko, 24 Oct 2005 @ 9:29pm

    Why do we lose touch?

    Funny how the more articulate I am and interested in what a "young person" has to say, the more invovled they get in the conversation I have with them.

    Perhaps it's time to tell these "punkass kids" about the possibilities of space exploration, new technologies, and the thrill of being the first person to do *anything* rather than a cartoon dog with sunglasses using idiom that's dated 10 years telling them girls might "go with them" if they "do science".

    I think that would be bodaciously gnarly, and pretty rad at the same time.

    Stop treating children like children, and they'll stop acting like children. Teenagers aren't stupid and can't be as easily manipulated as the marketing geniuses would like to believe.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    dorpus, 24 Oct 2005 @ 9:37pm


    That's luscious! Wuhuhuhu dood.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    rabidearz, 24 Oct 2005 @ 9:46pm

    Re: Blargh!

    I agree with you. Instead of making boring science cool... how about showing kids some cool science? I always liked science, but chunks of it can be pretty boring.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Oct 2005 @ 10:27pm

    No Subject Given

    My science teacher was the best, ever. He could teach anything he wanted, and always had the classes attention. I think it had somethign to do with his method. Teach the kids everything they need to know, then blow it up using some super cool scientfific method. We loved it. We would talk about science class and all the principles that we leared after school, and to this day, I can remember more about his classes than any of the others that I had to take. What else is interesting is that having just gone to my 10th reunion, he was the most talked about teacher that we all shared memories about.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    trollificus, 24 Oct 2005 @ 11:11pm

    science and coolness

    What assininity, to think that the scientific study of reality should be dumbed down, tarted up or made 'cool' for the benefit of loser brats.
    Because basically, it's the kids attitudes that suck, not science. I suppose having the entire entertainment and fashion industries cater to your every whim pretty much guarantees a bad attitude, but can't change what science IS.
    Here's a fact, you young whippersnappers: Lots of interesting, worthwhile and NECESSARY things in life are not as quick-moving as an MTV video. They are not trippy, trendy or cool. Science requires sustained attention, a godawful amount of work and, sometimes, interacting with and RESPECTING people who not only aren't 'cool', but who actively don't give a crap about cool. (And a lot less 'blowing up' than you might think.) Truth, kiddies.
    You can't make science something it is not, just to cater to people with deficient attention spans and an unwillingness to work.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Oct 2005 @ 1:36am

    Re: science and coolness

    Speaking of bad attitudes, how about three cheers for trollificus glowing example!

    While I think NASA's approach is a bit silly, it is right on par with the approach that I think trollificus would be if he/she was found in the class room.

    Students will respect any teacher that gives them respect. It goes both ways. Growing up in an inner city school, with plenty of violence it is noteable that the few teachers that didn't have trouble with the trouble makers were the only teachers that treated the trouble makers like human beings and not trash.

    The problems with the education system go way beyond how information is presented, and has more to do with the parents, teachers, and the administrators than we like to admit. And yes, I do belive that list is in order of importance).

    Parents MUST parent, teachers must teach, and administrators must administer. Unfortunately, parents don't parent, too many teachers wine about what they don't have, and administrators don't administrate.

    With the kind of negative vibe that runs through those three area's of a child's life, it is no wonder why children can be such aweful people to be with. Its all about their environment.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Oct 2005 @ 5:10am

    Lecturing from the teens

    For the "kids" that replied here, remember one thing (I as even though I know you won't). We lame adults have one up on you-- we have experience in being your age. Nearly every adolescent kid thinks adults are lame and that they know more than most adults. As a teen, that is your primary job. The only thing you won't accept yet is that adults already know this. Lame on, you'll get over it. In the mean time, we won't stop teaching. And in 20 years or so, you'll understand why and you'll even do as we do. Then we, as really old folks, will be laughing at your lameness.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    BG, 25 Oct 2005 @ 6:22am

    Will someone please...

    Will someone please send this item and its links to NASA and Honeywell? Maybe they'll get it....

    I have a possible solution for them to make science kool...
    Let them join forces and send all their neat surplus items and slightly outdated hardware to these schools and let them tinker/explore/invent/learn--maybe even come up with a competition that uses it and rewards the winners with scholarships, etc... They could even provide free help to kids via online or....?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Too Old For Comfort, 25 Oct 2005 @ 6:27am

    Re: Lecturing from the teens

    I happen to think that adults are lame too. Kids are much much smarter than most adults that I know. Adults fall into the trap that they think they are "better" because they are "older". I don't think it works that way.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    TonyD, 25 Oct 2005 @ 8:44am

    Re: Making science cool

    This URL has an article about using a Star Wars exhibit to explain different scince concepts. LIFE-STARWARS-DC.html

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Anonymous of Course, 25 Oct 2005 @ 10:52am

    Re: Lecturing from the teens/edifice complex

    An old person that is stupid was once a young person that was stupid. It takes stupid kids to make stupid adults.. get it?
    I'm so sick of hearing we need more buildings, books, equipment... stuff, if we're to succeed! BAH!
    We don't need more stuff, or multi-media events, to make science interesting. We need interesting teachers. Teachers that know their subject matter backwards and forwards and teach with enthusiasm (Mr Wizard comes to mind.)
    I had ONE interesting physics teacher in high school. With simple experiments, that anyone could make with materials found at home or wally-world, he turned the theoretical into the practical.
    Teach those that can be taught and let rest get a degree in liberal arts.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    Mike, 25 Oct 2005 @ 11:20am

    No Subject Given

    Up here in Massachusetts we have standardized testing so its important for teachers to stay on track and cover the required material. This usually means rushing through material without getting into discussions and experiments that show a real world example of what was just taught. I believe that, especially in sciences and math, dissecting theories and solving problems should be more hands on rather than dictated by a teacher. It would allow the kids to have a more active role in the class. No matter what you do, school will never be cool. But at least the kids will have a respect for it because they will see that it has real-world implications.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Oct 2005 @ 12:02pm

    No Subject Given

    Bill Nye the science guy, you are my fav Jew!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    Ivan Sick, 25 Oct 2005 @ 12:36pm

    Re: Lecturing from the teens

    Umm.....the "kids" that replied here--seemed to be relatively respectful and intelligent. Note the lack of "1337speak" and actual sentences typed with punctuation and so forth.
    If you, as an adult, think that you have experience being their age and you therefore know what hip trends to emulate in order to get today's kids interested in your educational cirriculum, you're quite misguided.
    Trendy crap will never teach, and when it's five, ten, or twenty years outdated, it could actually make kids stupider. When you reinforce the attitude that school is "lame" by using such pathetic grabs for attention, they will want to pay attention even LESS.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    crystalattice, 25 Oct 2005 @ 2:47pm

    For what it's worth

    I always hated "kiddie shows" when I was a kid. I always thought they talked down to us children and didn't give us respect for our native intelligence. Yes, small children require entertainment mixed in w/ education, but as you get older you need to understand that life isn't always entertaining.
    How do you show the hours/days/weeks that are involved in studying stars before you know that you've discovered a new planet? Even if you're really interested in astronomy, that has to be the most boring part of the job.
    Bill Nye was the best, though. He explained science an interesting yet entertaining way, and he didn't "teach down" to the viewer. That's what NASA needs to create.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    Currywurry, 28 Oct 2005 @ 4:11am

    Re: For what it's worth

    I'm only 14, and i have to agree, i hate kiddie shows. I mean, come on. Do adults these days seem to think we all have the attention span and IQ of a 4 year old? I find boring stuff interesting. Heck, when i was little, my mum would take me to the library, and i'd always pick the Dorling Kindersley science books to read over the picture books and look at me now, i'm one of the best in school. If adults were to try and teach kids from an early age good hard science without any of this 'hip' stuff, then maybe the next generation of children in the world would be smarter for it. We once had a show similar to this at school, teaching us about the dangers of drugs. Didn't learn a thing from it. Then later that year we had a bloke come in wearing full roman armour, teaching us about the Roman army. He didn't try to dumb it down or anything, and i have the feeling that even if most people only learnt a bit, they still learnt something, and that was because he took the right approach, an approach of having a loud voice, being very forward and in your face, and treating everyone like adults rather than idiots.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. identicon
    a barrera, 2 Jun 2006 @ 6:52am

    breakdancing science

    in response to this comment i want to say that this person is just not getting the point. the fact that scientists are trying to make science look "cool" is just a way of inspiring youger people to become interested in science and so that they can relate to scientific concepts. using breakdancing to teach concepts such as momentum, spin, torque, etc., is just a way of getting attention. For a 11 year old kid, it's easier to relate to these concepts if they like what they're seeing, it catches their atention. using 'cool' looking people is a way of ending stereotypes (geek scientist with glasses and white coat), and giving kids the opportunity to take up science without being called all sort of names at school.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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