Today’s New York TImes has a great Q&A with Steven Farber, a biologist who heads Project BioEYES, a nonprofit that brings science to inner-city schools in Baltimore, Philadelphia, and South Bend, Indiana. The project itself seems really smart and introduces children to genetics, natural selection, and the scientific method. All very cool things! Dr. Farber uses the zebra fish as the subject for his program, which is part of the Jefferson University Science Outreach Program.
This program displays quite aptly why the natural world is so important for our growth and development and Dr. Farber seems really into it. For kids specifically, realizing the world is bigger and a lot more interesting than what they see in school will pay off in ways they don’t even realize yet. As Dr. Farber says:
The fish grab their interest. The teachers tell me that they don’t have attendance problems in the week we’re there.
And that’s just the start. You certainly don’t need a formal nonprofit to conduct similar projects with your own kids. I’ve used common pets as a way to teach biology and science. Far from just simply keeping a fish or lizard alive, I’ve always felt it is more rewarding to learn as much as possible about the animal, as well as be actively engaged in constant observation. The geeklings have so far been into it. Our personal menagerie currently includes reptiles, but we have had some limited success with fish and it’s been a real challenge to problem solve based on biology. Anyone else have similar home biology lesson ideas?