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Young Innovators Are Our Future and Every Child Has What it Takes!

Albert Einstein once said, “To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science.” This is still true for us today as it is increasingly more important for our children to learn to be creative thinkers and problem solvers. For us to compete globally, we need to teach our kids to be flexible thinkers who can develop solutions, not just memorize facts for the next test. This leads me to a story I would like to share with you. A story about a 10 year old who was inspired by Thomas Edison and Buzz Lightyear; who asked questions, imagined new possibilities, and explored an idea. Watch this Science Matters Video about Nathan Lord to see how he put inspiration and education to work.

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Nathan Lord was 10 years old when he sent a letter to his local PBS and NPR station. The letter made its way to me because I am all things Science, Technology, Engineering and Math for the Community Idea Stations, Central Virginia’s PBS and NPR stations. I learned that Nathan is one of our fans because he loves to watch the PBS show NOVA and listens to NPR with his parents. Included in Nathan’s letter was a wonderful pencil drawing of a Magnet Pack/Jet Pack design. Nathan’s letter explained that he created this design after learning all about magnets in the third grade. Couple this knowledge with his unwavering interest in Buzz Lightyear, and a cool creative idea was born.  

In his letter, Nathan described how his design could be made and how it could work. He applied what he learned in school and combined it with something that interests him- magnets and space travel. He then went about figuring out his own solutions.  

Science Matters’ goal is to encourage young people to ask more questions and seek out their own solutions. We want every child to become engaged in Science for lifelong discovery and learning, and for future careers. We accomplish this by creating articles and videos featuring young people doing amazing things in science and providing resources and ideas for how to do this at home. And like Nathan said, we want other kids to think “well, someone my age made this and it’s really cool. I can do it too!

And adding to the words of Albert Einstein who said “Creativity is contagious;” I’d like to add “Creativity and a love of science and discovery are contagious. Pass it on.”

Here’s an opportunity:

Children of all ages – with their parent’s help – are invited to send me a video of their invention and explain how it could work. Your idea might be a drawing or a three dimensional model. Be sure to explain why you made it, why it interests you, and what problem you think it could solve.  Send your video to me at dmickle@ideastations.org and some will be featured on Science Matters.

Resources to check out: If you and your children need a bit of inspiration and some "how to" videos - check out these creative and engaging resources.

Design Squad Nation: A fantastic website and online community that grew out of the PBS show Design Squad. Targeted to children ages 8 and up, this site features creative activities, videos, interactive games and exciting contests that inspire and prepare kids to try out engineering activities.

Design Squad Mission Solar System: A new Design Squad series of hands-on challenges and videos on space exploration. Great activities and videos to spark kid’s interest in engineering and space-science careers.

NOVA Labs is a new digital platform where “citizen scientists” can actively participate in the scientific process. You can participate in real-world investigations, check out videos, research data and ask experts your questions. Their motto is "the best way to appreciate science is to be involved in it." Pass it on!

Engineering is Elementary developed by the Museum of Science in Boston. EiE fosters both engineering and technological literacy for elementary-aged children with activities, resources for teachers and videos.

Article by Debbie Mickle, Science Matters Project Manager

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