Helping Kids Embrace the Wonders of Science and the Wonder of God

As I wrote in my last blog (by the way, I for one hate that word blog—it sounds like some unfortunate onomatopoeia for endless chatter. Anyway…back to my blaugh…), Dr. John Collins, a favorite seminary professor or mine who teaches Hebrew and Old Testament at Covenant Seminary, has written a helpful book entitled Science and Faith. Toward the end of the book (p. 345ff), Dr. Collins gives a plea to Christian parents to encourage their kids to develop a growing interest in science.

Remember from my last blog post the four reasons why the Christian faith should motivate us to love the sciences—
1. Because God created the universe as a testimony to his glory and creativity.
2. Because God has made us human beings with the need to satisfy our curiosity.
3. Because the sciences allow us to better serve humanity and creation as God’s caretakers of the earth.
4. Because the sciences allow us as Christians to better answer the claims of unbelief.

In light of these reasons, Christian parents should think seriously about how they can encourage their children to be interested in the sciences, perhaps even as their eventual vocations. And Dr. Collins provides a couple of practical ideas for parents to meet this challenge.

1. Christian parents should regularly express wonder and curiosity about the world and the universe that God made.

We can do things as simple as pointing out how birds and squirrels are finding their food and going about their lives. We can talk about the way a hawk or a turkey vulture uses the principles of airflow as they soar overhead looking for food. We can look at fossils in the rocks around our yard or parks. We can wonder aloud about our curiosity of how things work, why things happen a certain way, etc. We can explain what a “falling star” really is, and pay attention to when a meteor shower will happen, and then get up in the middle of the night as a family to watch it with blankets and pillows in the driveway or yard. We can explain the different planets visible at night and why they are in different places at different times.

Of course, you need to know these answers yourself before you can explain them. And the internet provides some fantastic ways to explore the universe of space for yourself and with your kids. One great website for this is Space.com. And you can get on NASA’s educational website and even subscribe to their email list that informs you of various space news and events at: http://science.nasa.gov/news/subscribe.asp.

But here’s something very new and exciting—Bill Bott, Deputy for Operations for the Information Technology Services Division of the Missouri State Government, and a member of The Crossing, sent me info about this brand new website and software program from Microsoft. It is specifically designed as an educational telescope experience that would be a perfect way parents can explore the wonders of the universe together with their kids. As of yet, it only works with Windows, not the Mac. But if you have one of the Intel-based Macs, you can run Windows on it via either VMware Fusion or Parallels Desktop (both for about $80). But the site looks very exciting and is a great example of ways parents can take their kids to a greater interest in and knowledge of science right in their own living room.

2. Parents can take their kids to museums, zoos, and observatories.

In Columbia, we don’t have a zoo within 140 miles, but the St. Louis Zoo can be a nice day trip. And you can include a visit to the St. Louis Science Center as part of the trip, or make it another trip. In Kansas City, there is a nice science museum at Union Station, although not as developed as the St. Louis Science Center.

But in Columbia, we are fortunate that the new YouZeum has recently opened up for exactly this kind of science experience with our kids. And the Central Missouri Astronomical Association is a local recourse for astronomy events, including use of the telescope at Law’s Observatory for free on Wednesday nights.

Just a couple of ideas you can do starting this summer. Again, the goal is to build interest in the sciences and to tie the wonders of science to the wonder of God as Creator—influencing both the mind and the heart of our kids through the sciences.

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