My daughter and I attended Jim Lenz’s Science Show at the public library. Mr. Lenz grabbed the children’s attention, allowed them to participate, laugh, shout out answers and get excited about what they were seeing.
And he asked them if they knew what science was.
None of them had a nice, short definition for science, and he defined science for them as “the art of asking questions.” As a scientist, I have been chewing on that definition for a little while. It’s a good definition, because that is what scientists do: we ask questions. But not just any questions. When a scientist wonders about something, the questions eventually get asked in a way that a prediction can be made (a hypothesis), and the hypothesis can be tested in a controlled manner. Asking the right question is, indeed, an art.
But even more important than asking the right question, is having a mind that is open and observant to the world around it. Many people have said that the greatest scientific discoveries are not marked by the exclamation “Eureka!” but rather by the puzzled expression, “Hmm, that’s funny…I wonder why…”
And that is, I think, the crux of science: the WHY. Scientists, like children, see something that just doesn’t quite make sense to them, and they ask “why?” Continue reading