What's your favourite childhood science memory?

In summary, the conversation revolved around a homeschooling mother with a five and two-year-old who is interested in science. The mother's five-year-old son is particularly interested in experiments and discussing the reasons behind them. The mother is eager to learn and pass on her knowledge to her son, and is seeking advice and inspiration from other scientists. The conversation also touched upon the accessibility of modern technology and the importance of hands-on learning and exploration. Many of the participants shared their own experiences as young scientists, such as receiving science kits or having access to tools and equipment to tinker with. Overall, the conversation highlighted the importance of fostering curiosity and providing opportunities for children to explore and discover in the world of science.
  • #1
Currawong
Hi, I'm new here. I'm a homeschooling mum with five- and two-year-old boys. The five-year-old seems to be shaping up as a scientist. He loves doing experiments both made up and by direction and he loves discussing why things happen and explaining them to people. The other day he made his own centrifuge with the lid of a wok and some bits and pieces (it was then that I looked it up and realized that centripetal force is the modern way of looking at it apparently).

I'm not a particularly scientific person (okay, it's obvious I'm not at all a scientific person) but I'm really eager to learn and pass a little knowledge at least onto my son (he has been getting a lot from the Net and books thus far). We've done a lot of the basic experiments like bicarb soda reactions and balloon stuff and we're always on the lookout for a new experiment.

So...my question to all you scientists is what really inspired you as a young scientist? What spurred you on to discover things and further your science? What did you love most about your scientific learning?
 
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  • #2
Currawong said:
So...my question to all you scientists is what really inspired you as a young scientist? What spurred you on to discover things and further your science? What did you love most about your scientific learning?

If you want to indoctrinate your kid to science, find him friends who have similar aspirations. It's hard to fail after a group is formed. Nature is full of wonders, you just have to open your mind for it.
 
  • #3
Currawong said:
So...my question to all you scientists is what really inspired you as a young scientist? What spurred you on to discover things and further your science? What did you love most about your scientific learning?
My parents bought 'How and Why Wonderbooks'. I don't know if they are still available, but they were usually devoted to particular topics. One had simple scientific experiments one could perform and which demonstrated certain principles of physics.

A friend of my fathers bought me a microscope, and I spent hours looking at things (insects, parts of plants, dirt, . . . .) that I found outdoors, and sometimes indoors. I made my own slides.

My dad bought an electronics kit that allowed me to build a variety of electronics circuits, including a radio.

We also had plenty of science books, e.g. books on astronomy.
 
  • #4
One sad fact about modern technology is that even when you pick it apart, you won't be able to figure out how it works!

Inquisitive kids of prior earlier times could quite easily see how/why a watch worked, or even how, say, a radio was built up.

However, this doesn't mean that the basic reasons for why a thing worked previously suddenly have become invalid! (The laws of nature are eternal)

A kid today could learn a lot about, say, mechanics and electricity by peeking inside instruments, as long as the specimens do not "suffer" from the extreme sophistication of modern day technology.

Perhaps you might try to locate second-hand stores to find "old" technological pieces in working order, and discover together how these items work as they do?
 
  • #5
If you take your children outdoors a lot, it might be a good idea to get a decent compact field guide to the birds in your region. You can find and ID a bird from its field-marks, then read about where it nests, and where it lives in the summer and in the winter. Many guides come with life-lists pre-printed you you can check off which birds you and your boys have seen. I much prefer guides that feature painted illustrations instead of photographs - they do a better job illustrating identifying features. I haven't seen the newest version of the Peterson Field Guide, but in the past, they were very strong in this regard.
 
  • #6
I was 6 when I got my first science kit. It was for rocks and minerals, complete with a little hammer, awls, and my first refracting microscope. I would dress in my Fathers over sized lab coat and collect samples from the neighbors decorative boulders {heheh sorry neighbors}.
It really opened up my eyes to the investigation aspect of science, which I really enjoy to this day.
 
  • #7
hypatia said:
I was 6 when I got my first science kit. It was for rocks and minerals, complete with a little hammer, awls, and my first refracting microscope. I would dress in my Fathers over sized lab coat and collect samples from the neighbors decorative boulders {heheh sorry neighbors}.
It really opened up my eyes to the investigation aspect of science, which I really enjoy to this day.

So you were the mini scientist who stole my boulders.I forgive you.:biggrin:
 
  • #8
one of my favorite memories is of a teacher who made the time to show me why I was wrong.
It involved the idea of a motor turning a generator that would supply power for the motor to turn the generator. My first perpetual motion experience.
Since I couldn't see the flaw in the idea he took the time with me after school to build the device. Big electrical shop three phase motor and generator were used.
I still remember the sound as the rotors spun faster and faster till it was obvious that the thing would self destruct. Positive feedback is fun, dangerous!, but fun.

That day started me on my way to a technical career.
 
  • #9
My dad had a small workshop in the house with all kinds of tools, electronic parts unimaginable. So I got exposed to it very early, and begin tinkering with it. But when that wasn't enough I started takings things apart, even a brand new VCR that my dad bought when I was five. It was a thrill to figure out how it works and see what's inside.
 
  • #10
That's wonderful that he is starting to 'test" things.

My first big science love was my microscope. It's very easy to make slides of common things found in and near the house. Reading about things and seeing pictures was never as cool as actually seeing them in real life.

My other favorite was a telescope. This is something that the whole family can enjoy together.

My chemistry set was a lot of fun. Growing crystals, gathering tadpoles and watching them change into frogs. Ant farms, sea monkeys, attempts to incubate quail eggs in an incubator, ok, that didn't work. :frown: Even my venus fly trap.

My rock collection got me interested in geology, an interest I still have today.

These were all things that opened my mind to the wonders of nature and science.
 
  • #11
Currawong said:
So...my question to all you scientists is what really inspired you as a young scientist? What spurred you on to discover things and further your science? What did you love most about your scientific learning?

I probably had the most fun playing with all of the chemicals and experimental adhesives being developed for NASA, that my dad brought home from work. I think he's still mad about me permanently gluing his best ladder shut.

Next, anything with high voltage, and anything that exploded.

Of course my parents didn't know about most of this. Good luck. :biggrin:

Microscope
Chemistry set
Telescope
Recording equipment
Dads Camera
Built a Van de Graaf generator
Electronics. Back then, Radio Shack was a fun place!

Gasoline engines for minibikes, go-carts, later motorcycles and cars. In order to understand how an engine works, you go through a good bit of physics. One also gets to see how the theory translates to a real system.

But most of all, access to good information. I know that both Astronuc and I were reading our dad's college physics books by our early teens.
 
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  • #12
For me it was the various books that my parents bought. My top favorites were Funk & Wagnalls dictionaries and the Autobahn society field guides to North American fossils, birds, rocks and minerals, reptiles, and the night sky. There were also a few different naturalist field guides which I remember being very interesting. They were filled with many experiments and and different things you could do, like how to assemble a mouse skeleton from collected owl droppings, how to make a water purifier with a sheet of plastic and a glass jar, building a small pond to kickoff an ecosystem which you could monitor, ect.

The biggest thing for me though, would be the fossil digs that my father took me on. Nothing beats digging for hours on end in the dirt and mud when all of a sudden, out of nowhere, you find something very rare or possibly something that no one has ever laid eyes on before.

Though they may be a bit outdated for today's youth, I absolutely LOVED Carl Sagan's TV series Cosmos and Arthur C Clarke's Mysterious World. I can honestly say that it was Carl Sagan who inspired my love for astronomy and the overall appreciation for the dynamic world around us.
 
  • #13
I'm not sure. I think it was a combination of things. All the nature shows on TV, playing in the backyard collecting bugs and spiders (my mom didn't complain too much about the caterpillars, but had fits that I played with spiders), and certainly my science classes in school. For someone who wound up in biology, it was the projects involving circuits that I loved in school...we had to build things. In 6th grade, I made a little battery-operated burglar alarm for a door...built a little model of a door, had to make an electromagnet, which sounded like the neatest thing, and it buzzed as two little pieces of metal would make contact and break contact. We were expected to be able to explain the workings of the circuits involved in our projects...not that I remember it all now.

On the bio side, my parents had an old microscope...the really basic, cheap kind with a mirror for providing light. With a couple of slides and coverslips, I was busy exploring everything I could get onto a slide...onion skins, pond water, hair, whatever.

The lessons about ecosystems were always fun as a kid too...grow some plants to raise aphids that we fed to crickets and then fed the crickets to the lizards.

I always had great science teachers, so that certainly helped a lot.
 
  • #14
For me it was chemistry and electronics.

A friend of my father, who was a chemist, gave me an old schaum's outline of chemistry. We lived in an older two story house and I was given a basement room with a refrigerator, gas stove and a sink with water. Well needless to say, I was grounded many times for the smells the I generated by experiences all those reactions first-hand.

As for the electronics, I have a vivid memory when my mother discovered that I had cannibalized her tube type radio. It took me a while but I got it back together. :smile:
 
  • #15
B. Elliott said:
the Autobahn society
I think you meant the National Audubon Society. :smile:
 
  • #16
Evo said:
I think you meant the National Audubon Society. :smile:

Whups. I guess I need to start paying closer attention to spell check.:-p
 
  • #17
When I was 6 or 7, I asked Santa for a doll for Christmas. My parents were very surprised - I hadn't shown the slightest interest in dolls until then.

Santa brought me the doll - of course, I'd been a good girl o:), haha. But my mom was totally mystified when she found me cutting the doll to shreds, basically eviscerating it.

You see, it was the first doll on the market that actually peed...I only wanted one so I could figure out how it worked :smile:.

Needless to say, I lost interest in it, once I figured it out.
 
  • #18
I was eight when I begin freezing ants in the refrigerator then carefully deciding at what point I could defrost them slowly back to life, making sure they wouldn't drown.
 
  • #19
Currawong said:
So...my question to all you scientists is what really inspired you as a young scientist? What spurred you on to discover things and further your science? What did you love most about your scientific learning?

Well I wasn't interested in chemistry until college. I had paper and pencil chemistry earlier. I was inspired after entering the lab. Reaction? => Wow..:bugeye:

edit: okay now I am reminded that I had never been disgusted with raw animal innards/body parts even when I was younger. In actuality, I was facinated to find out what they were and what function they served in the previously living animal. I went and told my friends about what I learned about these organs...http://img5.imageshack.us/img5/4596/shockedb.gif and they weren't thrilled.
response?=> ewwww!

Does collecting insects count? I still collect butterflies when they come along.
 
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  • #20
Wow, thanks everyone, what a variety of experiences! I'm really glad most of them come from outside the classroom! :biggrin:

Thanks also for all the suggestions. We do have a microscope but I have no idea how to use it :blushing: and it was second-hand so no instructions. In any case, I think it might be a bit old for him yet.

We'll just keep plodding along with experiments and science sets and I'll study a little about different concepts so I can bring them to him (had a look at Newton's Laws of Motion last night - geez, I might just be coming a scientist too :eek:)

I love reading all your experiences. :smile:
 
  • #21
My most memorable is the red potato I grew in the 4th grade.
 
  • #22
Topher925 said:
My most memorable is the red potato I grew in the 4th grade.

I think potatoes grow better in soil.:biggrin:
I have a whole bunch of good memories such as hearing music played from my finger nail when I put it in the groove of a record on a turn table.
 
  • #23
My high school physics teacher. Absolute science nut, physics is her life and it really inspired me and added to the class. It all started when i finally met someone as enthusiastic about figuring things out as I am :) A really good science teacher is worth alot.
 
  • #24
Green Zach said:
My high school physics teacher. Absolute science nut, physics is her life and it really inspired me and added to the class. It all started when i finally met someone as enthusiastic about figuring things out as I am :) A really good science teacher is worth alot.

Very true. My HS physics teacher taught me so much I could have skipped my first two years of engineering and physics courses. I'm starting to recall another childhood memory involving a tesla coil and high voltage...
 
  • #25
Currawong said:
Wow, thanks everyone, what a variety of experiences! I'm really glad most of them come from outside the classroom! :biggrin:

Thanks also for all the suggestions. We do have a microscope but I have no idea how to use it :blushing: and it was second-hand so no instructions. In any case, I think it might be a bit old for him yet.

We'll just keep plodding along with experiments and science sets and I'll study a little about different concepts so I can bring them to him (had a look at Newton's Laws of Motion last night - geez, I might just be coming a scientist too :eek:)

I love reading all your experiences. :smile:
In addition to a microscope, I'd recommend a good set of binoculars or a telecsope to look at the stars, and if possible some plants and maybe some galaxies and nebulae.

http://www.spaceinfo.com.au/links.html

http://www.astronomy.org.au/ngn/engine.php

http://www.southern-astro.com.au/
 
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  • #26
Oh I loved the experiments, that mom and dad would set up for us to try.

*One was the old pill bottles with easy off caps, then using water and alka seltzer, then watch them explode :biggrin:

*taking a glass filled with water, with one ice cube, and place a cotton string on it, then put a lil bit of salt and watch it stick.

There are plenty more I could say, we had an awesome book that had cool, easy, and cheap experiments, that explained the concept behind it all, in "stupid people" terms.
 
  • #27
Playing with ants. I don't remember how many years I spent then trying to self learn about their behavior or stalking them. I remember giving them food too.
 
  • #28
Don't get me started with ants - just to say that a light socket was rather effective. Or the 12"X12" Fresnel lens that would vaporize them. Muriatic acid too?

Really, one excellent scientific experience was visiting Edmund Scientific in New Jersey, and fantasizing about all of the surplus materials (e.g., Fresnel lens) there. There was perhaps the first ongoing laser light show. Got a cool electromagnet there, supposedly lifted 500 pounds with a "D" battery.
 
  • #29
I had lots of Legos, Lincoln Logs, and the like when I was a kid. I began taking things apart to try to understnad how they work and at one point was given a chain saw to take apart (sans gasoline of course) and was challenged to take an old tracter apart. Unfortunately that was at my aunt and uncles house that I rarely got to go to so never really got any where with it. :-(

I would say that reading and problem solving are probably the most important aspects of their education to stress. Other than that allow them to strike out on their own path and attempt to support their decisions as much as possible. They may not be scientists at heart and trying to push them along that path could stunt their progress in more preferred areas of pursuit.

Of course just following their whims can be bad too. My parents tried to follow my persuits on a day to day basis. As a result I gained a slight grounding in various areas but nothing substantial in any single one. I have a general knowledge of various forms or art, very basic grounding in various sciences, some history, and some literature under my belt. Most of the specific knowledge I have is due to my own study and experience on my own without regard to my parents or schooling.

Parenting is a difficult thing and I both envy and do not envy your position. Just try and you will do well regardless of the out come. :-)
 
  • #30
Currawong said:
Hi, I'm new here. I'm a homeschooling mum with five- and two-year-old boys. The five-year-old seems to be shaping up as a scientist. He loves doing experiments both made up and by direction and he loves discussing why things happen and explaining them to people. The other day he made his own centrifuge with the lid of a wok and some bits and pieces (it was then that I looked it up and realized that centripetal force is the modern way of looking at it apparently).

I'm not a particularly scientific person (okay, it's obvious I'm not at all a scientific person) but I'm really eager to learn and pass a little knowledge at least onto my son (he has been getting a lot from the Net and books thus far). We've done a lot of the basic experiments like bicarb soda reactions and balloon stuff and we're always on the lookout for a new experiment.

So...my question to all you scientists is what really inspired you as a young scientist? What spurred you on to discover things and further your science? What did you love most about your scientific learning?

You should read "The Pleasure of Finding Things Out" by Richard P. Feynman. If you haven't read it.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/0738203491/?tag=pfamazon01-20

Feynman's father wasn't a scientist but he was very scientific. There's a lot of father to son relationships in the book.
 
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  • #31
Bill Nye.
 
  • #32
Riemannliness said:
Bill Nye.

Love him! Bill, Bill, Bill!
 

Related to What's your favourite childhood science memory?

What's your favourite childhood science memory?

My favourite childhood science memory was when I made a baking soda and vinegar volcano with my dad. It was so exciting to see the chemical reaction and the eruption of "lava".

What inspired you to become a scientist?

I have always been curious about the world around me and loved conducting experiments and asking questions. This curiosity and love for learning ultimately led me to pursue a career in science.

What was your favourite subject in science class?

My favourite subject in science class was biology. I loved learning about living organisms and their intricate systems and processes.

What is your favourite thing about being a scientist?

My favourite thing about being a scientist is the opportunity to make new discoveries and contribute to our understanding of the world. It's incredibly rewarding to see your research have a real-world impact.

What advice do you have for young aspiring scientists?

My advice for young aspiring scientists is to never stop asking questions and never be afraid to fail. Science is all about trial and error, and every failure brings us closer to success. Also, don't forget to have fun and enjoy the process!

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