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Inspiring kids to learn physics

  1. Sep 6, 2011 #1

    Ivan Seeking

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    I think I made a post about this in random thoughts but thought it might make a good thread.

    About a month ago we had my sister and her family visiting. At that time I presented a challenge to the kids - ages ~ 10, 12, and 13 - that they seem to have taken to heart. I gave them my first book on Relativity, Einstein's Relativity: The Special and the General Theory--A Clear Explanation that Anyone Can Understand. I then offered $50 to the one who could read and understand this book at the youngest age.

    Their grandfather on their father's side is a retired nuclear engineer [Ph.D., MIT]. You can imagine his surprise and excitement when, this weekend, his ten-year-old grand-daughter asked him to summarize the Theory of Relativity for her!

    518262VERFL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_.jpg

    Using money to bribe kids to learn? Not something that I would generally approve of, but I know there is no way they would ever take on something that challenging without unique motivation. By making it a contest between the siblings, with a prize, and a chance for the youngest to win, it presented a unique opportunity to open little minds. No doubt that for many of us, our first exposure to Relativity was a life-changing experience. So this seemed like a pretty good deal for $50. I couldn't be more thrilled that over a month later, they're thinking about it.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2011
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  3. Sep 6, 2011 #2
    Are kids motivated by possessions or greed, and -even if- should that be promoted, or not?

    I take some of the Islamic criticism on western society serious, though I am sometimes undecided on it. (Like: capitalism leads to the degradation (selling-off) of women.)

    It led to a minor conflict in my (ex-)family. Should my two daughters share possessions (my view), or should each of them own their possessions (the horrible ex). Who knows?
     
  4. Sep 6, 2011 #3

    micromass

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    Well, I hope to see those 3 as PF members soon!! :biggrin:
     
  5. Sep 6, 2011 #4

    Ivan Seeking

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    I understand your point. However, while I too thought about your concerns, this was really more of a trick than a bribe. I suspect that at least two of the three may have strong tendencies towards math and the sciences. The point isn't to pay them to learn physics, it was to create a goal and a competitive circumstance that would motivate them to try. If the spark is there, they will fall in love with the logic regardless of the money. This was just intended to give them an early start.

    Also, they understood that this wasn't a quick challenge - a quick buck. It will surely be at least three to five years before someone wins.

    I would add that the op is in no way meant to limit the discussion. It was just the motivation for the thread.
     
  6. Sep 6, 2011 #5

    Ivan Seeking

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    The youngest has already been in math competitions and was highly dedicated. She did well but was heartbroken when she lost! I think she's a ringer for the sciences. So far it's hard to tell with the other two. They are all bright so I could see all three going this direction.
     
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