This is a phrase thrown around by children all the way up to high school or college. But what does becoming a scientist entail?
Most desires of a career at a younger age are reflections of situations around them, influences from friends and family, and outside stimuli such as TV and movies. But there are children that, from an early age, know exactly what they want to be. While you cannot decide a child’s future for him or her, you can encourage an interest in science, math, and medicine.
How do you help your children achieve their goals?
First, take their age into consideration. A child of three interprets the world of science differently than one of 10. Encourage them to tell you why they want to be a scientist, and let them become one in work and play. Let them ask questions about their “proposed” field and allow them to create projects with that in mind. Obviously the simplest games and experiments are the best.
Mike Brotherton, astronomer and writer, has listed five traits that indicate the ability to become a scientist:
Raw brain power. Every scientist has some native intelligence above and beyond that of the general population. Perhaps not a lot more, but above average. Showing the ability to figure things out and understand the tasks before them are traits that will last through the tough years — high school, grad school, and beyond.
Dedication to finishing long-term projects. Does your child finish building his castle? Do they start puzzles, games, and books and continue to the end? Sticking to a task is an important trait. You can find plenty of smart people, including geniuses, who can’t be scientists because they’re flighty or disconnected. Obviously the ability to concentrate and follow through strengthens as one ages, but keep an eye out in the early years, too.
Communication skills. Scientists in every field write papers: research papers, grant applications, proposals, and business letters. Make sure that from an early age on your child is able to write and spell. Note if they have an interest in writing or if they just want to get by. The ones who can’t communicate clearly and effectively will not be able to get their thoughts across, either in school assignments or their thesis in college.
Shows Interest. Toddlers through high schoolers show interest in the things around them one way or another. It’s the children who go beyond wondering and actually explore their world who are great candidates for science. Do they take things apart? Do they attempt to put them back together? Do they ask questions of how things work all the time? These are the students you need to encourage toward a scientific goal.
Attention to detail. Young children are not always detail-oriented, but it’s those who make sure they write exactly what they see or feel who are poised to do well in the future of research papers and projects. Children need to be able to pay attention for longer periods of time so they can understand each step as it happens. Research deals in exactness, not generalities. So encourage your youngsters to take their time when trying to understand a new concept.
Children know at an early age which scientific field calls them. Perhaps it’s anthropology, physics, astronomy, or dozens of other worlds of research. Not everyone can become a scientist, but the methods and applications of learning at a higher level can benefit any child in any career.
Listen and encourage their dreams. Help them on the path through school to become a scientist.