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Evening star. [volume] (Washington, D.C.) 1854-1972, June 15, 1958, Image 159

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Scientists Teach Their Children Science Continued from preceding page
riiyilßlßjlitT Columbia's
Teru Hayashi helps children
Tesa., Tomi, Tuck and Curt
make a do-it-yourself-kit
telescope. When kids finish
grinding this four-inch con
cave mirror it will be pow
erful enough to let them
view four moons of Jupiter
copy of the periodic table of chemical
dements on the wall near the dinner
table,” he says. “The children make
attempts to identify the chemical de
ments by their symbols and num
OneoHhe busiest Americans today is
Dr. Simon Ramo, Chief Scientist of
the Air Force’s Ballistic Missile Pro
gram and President of Space Tech
nology Laboratories, Division of the
Ramo-Wooldridge Corporation.
Dr. Ramo finds that he can teach
his small boys difficult scientific
theories usually reserved for college
study by putting it into their language.
One instance involved the com
plicated concept of “information
theory,” that away of measuring
the amount of information in a state
mem or a photograph or in a TV
talk. This is how he went about it:
- “I asked Alan, when he was five,
‘How many yes and no questions
(like the 20 Questions game on radio)
would it take to find out the age of a
person who is anywhere from just
born to 64 years .old?* His answer:
•64.’ I then say, ‘How 9m this be,
since in the Twenty Questions game
people find out much more secret
things than ageT To this Alan
replies, as might be expected: ‘Those
guessers are very smart.’
“Then 1 showed Alan that ‘smart
ness’ is not a mysterious gift but a
way of thinking scientifically. I
remarked that with one question I
could cut down the number of possi
bilities from 64 to 32. ‘Do you know
what that one question isT I ask.
With this him Alan gets pretty smart
himself, and says: ‘Oh yes. Are you
old— more than 32? If you say
“yes” then I don’t have to guess
about young ages, and if you say
“no” I know I only have to guess
about young ages.’
“So we went all the way down the
line, until we had discovered together
that we would only need six ‘yes’ and
‘no’ questions to get the right answer.
“It has been interesting to see Alan
and Jimmie apply this basic scien
tific approach to their own learning
efforts, even to their games. A great
deal can be done in the home to
teach this kind of scientific thinking,”
MoxwwM Copfon
Fan The Spark Os Genius
Dr. Ramo adds, “even if the parents
are not scientists.”
“Yau can l«am an trips.” A Sunday
visit to a natural-history museum can
be a real adventure into new discov
eries for your child. Hermann Muller,
Nobel prize-winning geneticist, says:
“When I was seven my father took
me to the American Museum of
Natural History. By showing me the
gradual change in the structure of the
hone's hoof to adapt to faster run
ning, he explained to me the principle
of natural selection. From then on 1
could apply this idea to the diverse
development in many living things.”
You can also illustrate abstract
ideas to older children on trips.
Cincinnati psychologist Lucieo A.
Cohen taught the concept of time to
12-year-old children by taking them
to a factory to show bow important
timing was in making things. There
they could see the abstract idea of
time concretely in operation.
Some of these suggestions
can be used just as they are, others
will stir new ideas in your mind.
Remember that you don’t need to
be a to nurture one. For
instanoe, atom-physicist Dr. J. Robert
Oppenheimer discovered science at
the age of five when his grandfather
gave him a box of minerals.
Your children can also receive
boxes of minerals, elements of paper
making, fertilizer samples, and many
other “Things of Sdenoe,” through
Sri**** Service, 1719 N. Street N.W.,
Washington 6, D.C This is a non
profit organization devoted to the
popularization of science. For only
$5 a year, a kit with scientific speci
mens and experiments will come to
your house once a month. They are
very exciting and worth while.
And another famous scientist. Dr.
Harold Urey, discoverer of heavy
hydrogen, feels that many of our
children are bom with a spark of
genius. “The number of geniuses is
small,” he says, “but the number of
those with a spark of genius is much
greater. This spark can be nurtured
by parents, or it can be dulled and
frustrated. What we should try to do
is to nurture this key quality in our
children.” The End
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