Much effort is placed on identifying the gifted among the young and trying to ensure that they get the special opportunities that will help them grow into accomplished adult practitioners of their talent. While this may be well and good, it should not be the objective of science education – doing science is for everyone.
President Eisenhower established the President's Council on Youth Fitness with Executive Order 10673, issued on July 16, 1956. Exercise programs in schools were instigated by President Kennedy. These programs involved all students in physical activity to improve their wellbeing and not to ensure that all potential Olympic competitors were identified.
Too often today, the view of non-scientists is that science was something with which they struggled in school and is the province of scientists. This leads to the views that science is for nerds and geeks or a special group of gifted individuals (almost a priesthood). However, the scientific habits of mind, the ability to cope intelligently with data, and the ability to question insightfully are requirements for citizens of the 21st Century. We have students write to build written communication skills; we need students to do science – student scientific research – to develop essential life-long abilities. There is no expectation that many will be the next J K Rowling, and there should not be the expectation that they will be the next Neil deGrasse Tyson.
YLACES is devoted to the proposition that doing science is for all. Recently, students at a grantee high school for nurses in Zagreb, Croatia were recognize for their research as part of the GLOBE European Aerosol Campaign. Another grant to SciStarter for recruiting, training, and equipping youth across the United States elicited this statement from an 11 year old cheerleader in North Carolina,
“Being involved in citizen science has made me want to continue my dream of being a scientist (hopefully a marine biologist). By tracking different species or doing other real experiments it makes me more involved with science, which I love.”
Let’s drop the view of scientists as some “other” and nurture and educate the scientist in us all.