Jun 18, 2011 - Learning, Parenting, School    6 Comments

Is the Weatherman a Scientist?

Weather StationA couple of days ago, the other Reception class stuck this weather station outside their classroom. Now as all the Reception children share the same yard, the label seemed infintely loaded.

But anyway, seeing it the first time after school, making our way home, my first reaction was to tell Georgia to leave it alone. Too late.

A combination of selective hearing and curiosity meant that she dashed straight off to pick up the rain water funnel.

As the other class’ pupils spilled out, one ‘told’ on her shouting loudly, “Georgia’s touching the weather station”.

It so happened that by that time, I had caught up with her, and had told her to put it back, and leave it alone. But a man who was at the door, of the other class room, one whom I’d never seen before, took it upon himself to berate her or at least it seemed like it, at the time. (Given that I myself had told her to put it back, and he had witnessed the whole incident.)

He shouted loudly and went on and on, insisting, “You are not supposed to touch that only real scientists can, and it takes years and years of training to become a real scientist”.

Now , while I was absolutely appalled that Georgia had picked up the rain funnel, disregarding the sign on it, I was completely cheesed off at the unnecessary reaction to her curiosity and inquisitiveness.

Having been (do you ever stop being?) an actual ‘real’ scientist, I had on the very tip of my tongue a retort, which would probably have shut the man up, but I held my tongue. In hindsight, probably rightly so, for it would have been unnecessary and pointless to get in to an argument.

However, I am a firm believer that nothing promotes or encourages science more than kids getting their hands dirty. Encouraging curiosity and certainly encouraging experimentation.

To put up a sign that says Scientists Only, discourages the fact that everyone, especially children, are probably the best scientists around. While I am a member of the Permanently Head-Damaged, I certainly do not believe you need letters after your name to be a scientist. It would have been so much better if the sign had just said Do Not Touch.

If you had been there, would you have said something?

© 2011, Li-ling. All rights reserved.


  • Completely agree with you and probably would have handled it the same way.
    The amount of physics and chemistry experimentation that goes on around here is phenonmenal and today we had biology too as snails crawled all over all three boys. Kids are natural scientists: often it’s the way it’s taught that grinds it out of them.

    • Thanks Karyn. Yes kids do just love trying out things. Boys and snails 😉 what a combination. Have you tried the mentos an coke experiment yet? I bet the Hare would love it.

  • Hmmmm, that would have made me REALLY irritated as well. And good question–when does one start becoming a ‘real’ scientist? As soon as they pick up their first leaf and start to examine it I would say.

    • Hi Michelloui, thanks for sharing your thoughts. It was truly irritating – and G told me yesterday “the man who shouted at me the other day – is Mr R who is a learning teacher” – so I suppose that means he is a trainee teacher.

  • Hi there!

    Must say your blog is very interesting and insightful. In this particular case probably best not to have said anything as I always thinks it’s very pomopous to point out that one has a PhD.

    As to your question about when do we become scientists- as other posters have said, I think it is totally innate and hopefully never leaves us. Not sur eif you’ve come accross OPAL but its whole ethos is citizen scientists feeding their information into nationwide studies on wildlife and nature. I can send you some activity packs if you like!

    Good stuff- keep it up!

    • Hey Ross!! How are you?
      Thanks for your comments and yes, I was glad I held my tongue 🙂 I like to think too that curiosity is innate – I often come back to babies sticking their feet in their mouths – curiousity.
      Yes please to OPAL activity packs – I’ll google in and will PM you. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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