This week at the University of Florida we’re hosting a colloquium about some of the innvoative ways that being found to bring science into children’s lives. Over the coming days, we’ll be introducing you to three of the participants on our program. Our conference is called “Transforming Encounters: Children and Science, Imagination and Inquiry.” We chose to include “imagination” in our title because, as scientists will tell you, the creative is as vitally present in an elegant solution for a math or physics problem set, as it it is in the delicate balance of words and text in a picture book. Or, as the picture book writer Vicki Cobb, who will be one of the keynote speakers at our conference, might respond: scientific curiosity is also part of our imaginative engagement with the world, especially in the experience of young children.
Ms. Cobb is the author of dozens of books for a range of readers and audiences, among them Science Experiments You Can Eat; Don’t Try This at Home!: Science Fun for Kids on the Go; How to Really Fool Yourself: Illusions for All Your Senses; Why Can’t You Unscramble an Egg?: And Other Not Such Dumb Questions About Matter, and its companion volme, Why Can’t I Live Forever?: And Other Not Such Dumb Questions About Life-- to name just a few. Her books reach kids where they live, where their sneakers hit the ground, literally, or where the paste touches the paper. Just check out her The Secret Life of School Supplies for the inside story of such necessities of childhood as pens, pencils, and erasers -- with formulas for making your own. The latter, hands-on part of Ms. Cobb’s approach is essential, she believes, because it’s that immediate engagement that will teach children, from the personal, kinesthetic inside, about the scientific method that includes: observation, classification, sequential thinking, experimentation, and analysis. And this adventure is, as Vicki Cobb practices it, a lot of fun. You can sense this spirit of scientific play at work on her homepage, vickicobb.com. And you can certainly see it, beautifully represented in her recent “Science Play” series of picture books for younger children, which she has done with the artist Julia Gorton. Each of the books -- I See Myself , I Get Wet, I Fall Down, and the award-winning I Face the Wind -- takes both the child and the adult reading to the child and working the experiments with them -- on a voyage of discovery. It’s also a journey of transformation, Ms. Cobb believes (and we agree): “Discover science,” she writes, “and the world will never look the same.”
Copyright 2005© John Cech
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Monday, 31-Jan-2005 12:19:09 EST