10 June 2012

A flame explained

Alan Alda challenged scientists to explain what a flame is to an 11 year old, and then invited 11 year olds to judge the results (and asked some scientists to check the results for accuracy). Here’s what resulted:

What fascinates me is the what the kids said, because as Alan Alda notes,

… the response of the kids was amazing. We have videos of kids discussing the entries. And one of the most surprising things to me was, while they rated entries highly if they were videos, if they had humor in them and if they were easy to understand, they rated them highly on those criteria, but they demoted them, they took points off if there wasn’t enough information.

They kept talking about how they wanted information and how they needed to learn and remember from these entries what a flame was. That was very heartening to me, and I think it should be instructive to scientists too.

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