Friday, 5 April 2013

Science, fun and precision

Engaging, interesting communication is not always going to be precise. It still has to be accurate, but you can't expect people to listen to boring communication just because it is as precise as you can make it. I saw a TED talk where Tyler DeWitt talked about communicating science to children. Because this is usually done by career scientists, they strive for two things above all else: precision and seriousness. If your textbook is too imprecise (saying, for example, "viruses have DNA" when some viruses don't) or too much fun, then it won't be accepted as a textbook for use in school.

DeWitt's point is that hyper-precision right off the bat is not going to ensure kids fall in love with science. It has the same effect as your annoying friend who corrects your stories as you tell them. It doesn't make the story more engaging, it becomes harder to follow and more annoying. Also, of course, if you're being deliberately not-fun, you shouldn't be surprised that kids aren't having fun in class and therefore aren't interested in science as a result. "Fun in class" even sounds strange to me, and I'm right on board with this. So it's infected me too.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - For now, I love science TV.
PPS - TV science is, of course, missing on the accuracy axis, but it's fun.

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