Thursday, January 3, 2013

Mistakes Matter

My third grade science project was supposed to show how plants needed light and water to grow. The only problems was that the plant I kept in the dark closet managed to grow. (Maybe I shouldn't have opened the door three or four times a day to check on it).

In order to make sure I wasn't flustered by the failed results of my science experiment, the night before I had to bring everything into school, my mom nuked the plant. She put it in the microwave and cooked it. That poor plant withered and died pretty quickly and I didn't even question it's sudden demise, I just marched off to school to reveal what I thought I knew.

Later in life, I earned a degree in Biology and worked for Carnegie Science Center. I love science and still do, and try to continue to read and learn what I can about biology, botany, anatomy and genetics - some of my favorite specialities. My boys have received several science kits as gifts (like skeletal models and crystal kits) and I plan to get them a microscope soon! 

But I also plan not to sabotage their experiments. If something goes wrong, and it probably will, I'm not going to sneak in and fix it. I'm going to let them think about why it went wrong, what it could mean, and let them change their ideas about the world and how things work.

It's going to be hard, because as parents we often want things to go nice and smooth and easy for our kids. But the world is a messy place. They need to be prepared for when things don't go their way and for when they mess up. And I need to practice not swooping in and trying to fix everything for them!

My 3 scientists