When the child was a child,
It was the time for these questions:
Why am I me, and why not you?
Why am I here, and why not there?
When did time begin, and where does space end?
Is life under the sun not just a dream?
Is what I see and hear and smell
not just an illusion of a world before the world?
From “Song of Childhood” by Peter Handke
As children we are the original scientists.
Born into a world of disordered shape and color we find pattern, grasping onto order to navigate the world. We scaffold reality, integrating novel observations into the known. Research published in Science (2015 Stahl and Feigenson) demonstrated how children explore the world as scientists. They spend more time exploring the unexpected, working as scientists to integrate the novel into the known.
With the passing of time marked by the pace at which the world passes us by, we speed up as we age and see less of the world, relying rather upon internal landscapes to navigate.
Great scientists find new ways of seeing. Albert Einstein wondered what the world would look like if he jumped on a beam of light. That thought experiment helped him develop the special theory of relativity.
Over 30 years ago two Susans, Susan Alan Lohr, RMBL’s first permanent full-time director, and Susan Brown Hoffman, RMBL’s first youth science program director, had the vision to create our youth science program. Adding younger ages to our traditional college programs complements our community. Striving to see the world through their eyes provides the opportunity to see the world anew, creating possibility of discovery! Volunteering with the program also provides budding scientists opportunities to explore science teaching as a career opportunity.
RMBL’s K-12 program is unusual in how children participate in an authentic research community. Brianna Guijosa, profiled in the accompanying article, has been one of our top science volunteers with the program. Coming to us from East Los Angeles College and transferring to Humboldt University, she has spent the last two summers in RMBL’s undergraduate research program studying how carrion beetles affect soil nutrients. Enthusiastic, passionate, and good at explaining the why and what of her research, instructors seek Brianna out.
This summer we received a huge financial assist from the Gunnison Metropolitan Recreation District, targeting north valley youth. A combination of program fees, growing year-round programs, and philanthropic support from a handful of individuals recognizing the special nature of the program, has made it possible to maintain a year-round youth programs director, reflecting the expertise needed to effectively bring science to youth in an outdoor setting. But there has always been a financial gap that we’ve struggled to fill, especially to support local schools. But with Met Rec’s support, the program will not just survive, but thrive, enabling us to bring authentic research to local children.
Thanks to everybody who has helped us bring financial order to a program that started as a vision of what could be! RMBL will only benefit from actively integrating the youngest of scientists into our community, extending our scientific lives as they reveal new ways of seeing!
To better understand how we construct the world around us, look for the “Invisible Gorilla” on YouTube.