TED TALK MINI RECAP: Science is for Everyone - Kids Included
In this lighthearted and extremely powerful talk, neuroscientist Beau Lotto eloquently ties together the notions of perception, uncertainty, play and science, making the case that science should be practiced by people of all ages, including children.
He makes the case that science and play are similar in that they both celebrate uncertainty and use discovery as a way to change perception.
Perception, he explains, is based on our previous experiences; we react to things that happen because of what we’ve learned when something similar happened before.
There is then an uncomfortable certainty when we experience something that doesn’t go how we think it should—he gives the example of a frog not taking to kindly to his futile attempts to lick animated flies off of an iPhone.
So the beauty of science and play, then, is that they are the human endeavors that can push us into the space of uncertainty.
In fact, he says, “The best questions are the ones that create the most uncertainty.”
The key elements in play, he points out, are the same as those of a good scientist:
- Celebrate uncertainty
- Adaptable to change
- Open to possibility
- Intrinsically motivated
He then goes on to describe an experiment that he facilitated, using 10 year-old schoolchildren as his fellow researchers. His co-speaker, 12 year old Amy O’ Toole, was one of the children who conducted the research, and explains that she and her fellow classmates developed a series of What-if questions about bees as a game, and then went about working together to figure out how to answer them.
The young researchers ended up investigating uncharted territory on bees that was peer reviewed and eventually published in a science journal, making them the youngest scientists ever published and showing that the process of discovery is not limited to adults.
Changing the science of perception as well as the perception of science. You can check out this and many other great talks here