A step too far for science education?

Link: The Sceptical Chymist: Soft science.

Over at the Sceptical Chymist (link above), Catherine reveals that her niece has a toy pancreas. I kid you not. She’s also tracked down Albert Einstein action dolls, stuffed microbes and  Marie Curie finger puppets — and has managed to put forward an impressively plausible hypothesis as to why all these strange playthings exist, if you go to the link above.

These real-world examples of someone’s idea of how to make young people interested in science are beyond irony — what can one dream up that could be more esoteric? A greenhouse gas whoopie cushion? Stem cell stems with origami flower heads? Turkey twizzlers a la Jamie Oliver that turn blue if the strain is H5N1?

No, I don’t think I can beat the concept of the stuffed pancreas. Sounds very comfortable, whether lipase, amylase or Islets of Langerhans.  If, however, you do want to encourage a young person to be interested in science, you really don’t need all this. You just need one thing — an explosion.

5 thoughts on “A step too far for science education?

  1. Yes; I totally agree; and you are going to like the first chapter of my new novel, it’s set in chemistry class with an explosion front and center…

  2. i agree – explosions are definintely the best thing about science. i remember doing some experiment with crude oil at school– there was an explosion and the lab caught fire. the alarms went off, we all went trooping out to line up on the school field and several minutes later, as we were all standing around wondering what would happen next, my chemistry teacher came running out of the school with his trousers on fire. He was hopping up and down and proceeded to take his trousers off in front of 1000 teenagers. Poor man. But very, very, funny for us. Best chemistry lesson ever!

  3. Cathy’s chemistry teacher is apparently her most boring teacher — but recently did an explosive demo to the girls, telling them he did not need to use the fume cupboard but that they would have to. Next thing, the fire alarm goes off. Cathy and her friends trooped out but before doing so spotted him whisking all his equipment into the fume cupboard 😉
    I recall a few years ago when the “mad science” team visited my daughters’ primary school, and the enraptured faces of 150 children as “Mad Laurence” performed explosion after explosion…

  4. We sell ferrocene t-shirts and St. Patrick’s Day themed 18-crown-6 t-shirts, among others… I would have thought that too esoteric as well, but apparently not.
    I’m guessing the niece with the toy pancreas is the only kid in her class who has any idea what a pancreas looks like. That still can’t be a bad thing…

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