Seattle Children's Science Adventure Lab exteriorGood news today:  Seattle Children’s Research Institute’s Science Adventure Lab, the first mobile science lab program in the Pacific Northwest, announced they will receive  a $1.1 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The mobile lab travels to urban and rural schools throughout Washington state to bring science education to students in 4th through 8th grades at no cost to schools, teachers, or parents. The additional funding will allow the lab to expand to include structured activities for families with the intent of sparking interest in science-related careers.

That’s timely news given that Seattle recently placed first on a list of U.S. cities for having the highest number of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) jobs, according to a Forbes/Praxis Strategy Group study released last month. The report states that the growth of STEM jobs in Seattle has surpassed that of Silicon Valley.

So how do we inspire and nurture the next generation of science leaders to continue to fill these jobs?  Deep education cuts and the current economic climate prevent many children from opportunities to participate in high-tech science activities.  In the video below, Amanda Jones, PhD, and Mark Ruffo, PhD, who oversee the lab and science education activities, encourage parents to cultivate their child’s interest in science at home:

Tips for parents to encourage their child’s interest in science

  • Encourage kids to ask questions.
  • Look up an answer to a question in a book (together).
  • With older children, direct them to resources to find answers.
  • Let kids explore – in the garden, kitchen or at a museum.
  • Don’t call scientific things “gross” (A worm might be slimy, but it’s not gross).
  • Encourage reading, give kids the opportunity to explore other worlds on paper.
  • A great way to understand things is to take them apart and put them back together.
  • Encourage imagination.  Good science requires imaginative thinking, and that is developed at a very young age.

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If you’d like to arrange an interview with Dr. Amanda Jones, please contact Children’s PR team at 206-987-4500 or press@seattlechildrens.org.