At the youngest ages, children are intrigued by Mentos in a Diet Coke. Figuring out what nature is trying to tell us, which is otherwise known as doing science, can be exciting. But, too often, young people become disabused of that excitement when they experience the drudgery of reading dry texts while confined in a stuffy cubicle or a study carrel. Now we are taking a step to help change that perspective. We are displacing text with video, and we are making it easy to find and learn science wherever you happen to be.
It is an unfortunate circumstance that fun is too often taken out of science. We should want students of all ages to be happy, as happy people invest themselves more into what they are doing. We should want science to remain an avocation even as it becomes a vocation for some students and others move on to different interests. For too long, hours of silent study and nights spent in a dreary lab have driven out the joy like my five-year-old granddaughter felt last week when she caught a bright orange newt in the woods. Better to preserve the excitement and drive out the drudgery.
To that end, step-by-step, we are doing more to sustain the joy of science. With the arrival of Science Cinema and mobile apps like WorldWideScience (at m.worldwidescience.org), world-class information can accompany you almost anywhere and be instantly at hand whenever a question or a flash of inspiration strikes, whether that be in the lab or over a get-away weekend on the Chesapeake Bay.
The enormity of the content of WWS, the pedigree of the sources it integrates, the eye-opening technology that makes it possible, and its availability at no cost everywhere in the world with internet access, all combine to make a uniquely powerful tool that can regenerate spirit and excitement. Not a moment too soon, we are beginning to keep the fun in science.