Kids, Lighter, Science

Are Parents Smarter Than Their Kids In Math And Science? Maybe Not

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Solar system
This is a montage of planetary images taken by spacecraft managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA. Included are (from top to bottom) images of Mercury, Venus, Earth (and Moon), Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Image: NASA

Do you think you know more about science than your parents do? You could be right.

At a big science fair in England last November, 2,000 moms and dads were asked what sort of questions their kids had about science, and how they answer them.

Most of the parents said they found it hard to answer their children’s questions. A few of them said they think their kids know more about science than they do.

They said the five toughest science questions kids ask are:

• Why is the moon sometimes out during the day?
• Why is the sky blue?
• Will we ever discover aliens?
• How much does the earth weigh?
• How do airplanes stay in the air?

So what did parents say they did when they didn’t know the answer to a question?

Less than half of them said they try to find out the answers. Some parents (about one in five) said they make up answers, or pretend that no one knows. Some tell their kids, “Go ask your mother (or father).”

More than half the parents admitted they’re afraid of math and science. A few of the moms said they don’t know much about those subjects because girls weren’t encouraged to learn them when they were in school.

School children
School Children at Imperial Primary School in Eastridge, Mitchell's Plain (Cape Town, South Africa). Image: Henry Trotter, 2006.

Both moms and dads said they wish they had been more interested in math and science when they were students.

The good news is that their kids named math and science as the subjects they enjoy most.

The science fair where the survey was done is The Big Bang UK Young Scientists and Engineers Fair.

Brian Cox is a professor who helped with the science fair.

He said that if parents don’t know the answer to a question, they should work with their child to figure it out. That way, not only will they have fun but they’ll learn something new as well.

CURRICULUM CONNECTIONS
By Jonathan Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
When we are curious, we often ask an expert for their help. For that reason, many children ask their families and teachers. When people get older they become more independent and try to find answers for themselves.

Reading Prompt: Text Features
Today’s article includes bullets (•). How do bullets help readers understand and remember what they are reading? When might you use bullets in your writing?

Primary & Junior
Identify a variety of text features and explain how they help readers understand texts (OME, Reading: 2.3).

Intermediate
Identify a variety of text features and explain how they help communicate meaning (OME, Reading: 2.3).

Grammar Feature: Parentheses (  )
Parentheses are punctuation marks that tell the reader additional information or provide an explanation. When a writer has written a sentence, but feels that extra words will help their reader understand, writers can write a full sentence or, simply, include the information in parentheses. The paragraph below has two sets of parentheses.

“Less than half of them said they try to find out the answers. Some parents (about one in five) said they make up answers, or pretend that no one knows. Some tell their kids, “Go ask your mother (or father).”

Now that we know about parentheses, why do you think the author of today’s article used them in this paragraph?