VIEWPOINT: Help that lightbulb turn onHave you ever given thought to the creative people who become inventors? They say that Thomas Edison only attended regular schooling for about four months, and other than that, he was experimenting, testing, hypothesizing and fashioning all sorts of inventions, some that have changed our lives forever.
By: Kate Soucheray, columnist, Woodbury Bulletin
Have you ever given thought to the creative people who become inventors? They say that Thomas Edison only attended regular schooling for about four months, and other than that, he was experimenting, testing, hypothesizing and fashioning all sorts of inventions, some that have changed our lives forever.
It seems the creative mind of the inventor is one that sees the need of something, explores it from several different angles, and then begins to create that which will provide a function to satisfy its recipients. Their creative minds must be uniquely wired to deliver such insights and creations that are just out of reach for the rest of us and that help our world evolve.
What is your favorite invention? I think mine might be the Post-It note. I have found that I simply cannot live without them. Every time I take the diminutive 3-inch square of paper, with just enough stickiness to ensure its position until I deem differently, I find I give a little thank you to the person who envisioned its need for this busy world.
Most inventions have a way of leaving us wondering how we ever lived without this item and provide the opportunity to invite us to enter into the inquisitive world of exploration. With this in mind, if your child or grandchild were to come to you and inquire about a suitable suggestion for a science fair project for this year, would you be willing to spend an afternoon to help them explore the scientific realm for an appropriate and fitting venture?
Years ago, there was a small group of us who wanted one of the city’s elementary schools to have a science fair, so we formed a committee and set about helping the children and their families investigate all the ways we use science in our world today. All of this was in the hopes of igniting interest in exciting projects to fill the gym at the science fair, two months in the future, and provide oohs and ahhs for the spectators who would peruse and judge them, as well as lots of new learning for the students themselves. We invited Star Lab, the Minneapolis Planetarium, several 3M wizards, a doctor to apply casts, a veterinarian to bring his dog and explain some of the ways he treats animals, as well as several other interesting adults whose jobs involved science in some way.
Our daughter decided to grow plants in sponges. She took a sea sponge and a household sponge, planted seeds in each, placed them in separate containers filled with water and set them in the sunlight to see which would grow more quickly and robustly. It was an interesting project and one that offered her the opportunity to explain that the sea sponge had once been alive and likely still contained remnants of living particles, which provided nutrients for the growing seeds. The household sponge, by contrast, was manmade and did not have any such nutrients, which helped to explain why the seeds germinated but did not flourish.
A science fair project is an exciting way for a young person to engage a scientific question in a personal way, as they generally choose a topic that is interesting or fascinating to them. It makes what could seem like a dull subject more fun and appealing, as science literally comes alive.
What could you do to assist a young person in choosing a project for their science fair this winter? Offer to spend an afternoon with a computer and the Internet or make a trip to the library and help them find something truly compelling that will require mental effort and yield interesting conversations and wonderful memories for years to come.
Soucheray is a Woodbury resident and a licensed family therapist