Scientists help teach kids that “Science is Cool” through partnership with Learning Resources and the YMCA

Photo credit: Hooked on Science

The STEM trend in education continues to rise with research showing that sparking an interest in science, technology, engineering, and math at an early age puts children on the path to successful careers later in life. Chicago-based toy manufacturer, Learning Resources, is leading the charge by donating early-learning STEM-based toys to children across the country through their new “Science is Cool” initiative. Through their partnership with local YMCAs, Learning Resources is also bringing real scientists into after-school programs to give kids hands-on science lessons. Two of the real-life scientists involved in this exciting new program are Damon Lane, Chief Meteorologist at KOCO-TV in Oklahoma City, and Jason Lindsey of Hooked on Science. We recently interviewed both men about the importance of exposing kids to science at an early age and how companies like Learning Resources are making science cool in order to inspire the next generation of scientists.

Photo credit: Hooked on Science

How old were you when you first became interested in science and what sparked that interest?

Damon Lane: I can’t remember how old I was when I first became interested in science. I think it’s just always been in me, but it definitely became apparent in grade school that science would be an important part of my life.

Jason Lindsey: I was in kindergarten. Storms terrified me as a kid, my teachers encouraged me to learn more about storms by reading books, which lead to me becoming a meteorologist.

Why is it important for kids to learn and love science at an early age?

JL: Kids are naturally inquisitive, some of our first experiments are throwing food off our high-chairs, down stairs, basically making big messes as we learn about the world around us. Parents actually get in the way by saying don’t make that mess, etc. Bottom line, it’s important for parents to connect science with play, so kids better understand the world around them.

How do you use science daily in your career?

JL: As a television meteorologist, I utilize science every day, from engineering a forecast, to analyzing data, to explaining the science behind the weather, and more.

Scientists are frequently portrayed as “nerds” in movies, TV shows, and books. In your opinion, what needs to change for science to be viewed as cool?

DL: Changing the way that scientists are viewed starts at home. It’s amazing how many parents push their kids into sports and devote hours a day to sports but not to studies and subjects like science. Yes, we as scientists, are portrayed as nerds. We need to make “being smart” look cool. That means we needs to treat academic achievements the same way we treat athletics. Showcase them! Promote them!

How can science professionals help change that image?

DL: Science professionals need to get out in the community and show children what careers in science are really like. By visiting schools and making themselves available in the community, professionals in science fields can show children all the different, exciting paths in science and inspire them to pursue those careers later in life.

How can the toy companies, like Learning Resources, help inspire children to love science?

JL: Encouraging learning science through play. In other words, trick kids into learning science, while they play with the toys you create.

DL: The toy industry should also find ways to expand science play into the computer and gaming sectors so that older children and teenagers will continue to build their science skills in an interactive and engaging way.

In your opinion, what makes science cool?

JL: Science is everywhere! Without it, we would be in a world of trouble. What makes science cool, is you don’t even have to like it to benefit from it.

For more information on Learning Resources®, visit www.LearningResources.com

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