An Open Letter in Support of the Children’s Museum of
By Dr. John P Sullins
Chair, Philosophy Department
Sonoma State University
Science and technology is for everyone, or perhaps I should say; science and technology must be made available to everyone. Love of discovery and wonder at the world around us are the basic driving forces of science and technology and these qualities are found in great abundance in children. A sad truth is that these qualities are delicate and easily lost through the neglect of stimulating science curriculum in our schools and the cynicism engendered by the material society force fed our children through commercial media. If we are to raise the next generation of innovative technologists and forward thinking scientists we must nurture the gift of wonder at the earliest age so that this virtue can serve our children as they grow and face the serious challenges of the future. Children’s Museums have proven to be successful in teaching children complex ideas in fun and exciting ways and to foster the stimulation of the love of learning in children. These museums can be found around the country and across the globe, the North Bay area is in great need of our own permanent children’s museum.
Carl Sagan the famed American astronomer and strong proponent of the children’s museum movement once said:
"These exhibits do not replace instruction in school or at home, but they awaken and excite. A great science museum inspires a child to read a book, or take a course, or return to the museum again to engage in a process of discovery—and, most important, to learn the method of scientific discovery." (The Demon Haunted World-Science as a Candle in the Dark, 1996)
Learning the method of scientific discovery is not only important to future scientist but indeed to all future citizens. Our democracy requires the participation of its citizens in all decisions of public policy. Today, scientist and citizen both we are confronted with bewildering public policy issues requiring a deep understanding of science and morality. Everything from stem cells to global climate change, to genetically modified organisms, and beyond must be sorted out and sound public policy created in order for us to survive and thrive as a society. Citizens and public leaders that simply make these decisions based on a whim and guided by a shallow understanding of the facts can only lead to disastrous results. Every little thing we can do to increase science literacy will help our children make well reasoned and socially responsible choices when it is finally there turn to lead.
Let us all do what we can to give the children of the North Bay and their families a convenient place where they can explore the world in wonder whenever the mood strikes them!