What Galileo Can Teach Us About Scientific Truth
On September 20th, 1633 over 385 years ago Galileo Galilei was tried before the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for teaching that the Earth orbits the Sun. Galileo was an Italian philosopher and astronomer who created the theory of inertia and contributed to the theories of motions.
Galileo was imprisoned for his claims of the earth revolving around the sun but was later released when he recanted them. After his release it was often said that if you listened closely you could hear him mutter "E pur si muove" which means in English "And yet it does move". Galileo’s claims all those years ago helped spark a new beginning of a fundamental change in the study of science.
What is Scientific Truth?
The scientific truth is portrayed as finding information that can be proven as "accurate" or "reliable" knowledge. The value of science is understanding how the natural world actually works. There other types of “truths” in the world like spiritual and cultural truths that have different beliefs and values. Regardless of a person’s point of view when it comes to the topic of “truth” it is notable to remember that they do not have to reject other sources of meaning.
There are many people who believe in the importance of scientific truth as well as in spiritual or cultural truths. Francis Collins is a renowned biologist and former director of the National Human Genome Research Institute who has spoken out about both his spiritual beliefs and his scientific beliefs. Even some religious organizations have been outspoken about science as well, the Vatican for one has astronomy conferences and even owns its own observatory. No matter the person’s belief or view on the topic the prominence of scientific truth is one that can help us comprehend how the world works around us.
The Important of Early Science Education
Teachers and parents have tremendous influence on shaping the scientific thoughts and opinions of young children. According to research, most children have formed an opinion (whether it's good or bad) about science by the time they reach the age of 7. Elementary level childhood educators have more impact and influence on a child’s potential to seek out a career in science or engineering. Waiting until a child is entering middle school or high school is too late.
One of the attributes of a skilled science teacher, especially with younger children, is to watch how he or she uses fun and engaging science demonstrations and experiments to grab the students’ attention and stimulate their natural curiosity. Great science teachers use demonstrations in such a way that they invariably precipitate the question, “How did you do that?"
Parents' Role in Early Science Education
Parents don’t need to have a degree in chemistry to spark scientific interest in their children. Parents can model scientific curiosity by making observations about the world around us, asking questions, and trying to explain why things are the way they are. Simply by being curious, observing and asking how things work, you can peek a child’s natural curiosity and create a desire to want to learn more.
Here are some ways to incorporate science into your day-to-day lives:
Ask a lot of “why” questions. Even if you don’t know the answer, asking 'why' and exploring answers together with your child fosters curiosity in your children. This helps children overcome the fear of 'not-knowing', and encourages them to ask questions and observe the world around them.
Challenge your child to “prove it!” Scientists don't just arrive at shot-in-the-dark answers, but must prove what they believe to be true using good scientific reasoning. Whether or not your child comes up with the correct answer to a problem, play the devil’s advocate and challenge them to “prove it.” Questions like, “How do you know that?” help to develop critical thinking skills and help the child to analyze his or her own reasoning.
Show how science relates to the real world. Try to relate science to real-life situations, such as understanding how recycling helps the environment, why leaves turn colors in the fall, how rain is created, etc.
Help your child understand the process is as important as the 'truth': Back to Galileo - if he had believed without question the fact that the earth revolves around the sun, he would never have discovered the theories of inertia and motion! Teaching your child to challenge and question the things they are taught, at least to discover not just that things are true but why they are true, is the very essence of scientific curiosity.
Science Naturally's 'Beginnings' Collection
Science Naturally's 'Beginnings' Collection offers stunningly illustrated, information-packed titles to introduce youngsters to the wonderful world of animals, and, by extension, to themselves. They encourage children to make real-world connections that sharpen their analytical skills and give them a head start in STEM. Reading these titles together inspires children to think about how each species matures, what they need to survive, and what their communities look like—whether pride, flock, or family.
More than a simple scientific introduction, these animal stories are an instance and an analogy of caring love. Showing children attachment in the natural world fosters empathy, kindness, and compassion in both their interpersonal and interspecies interactions.
An easy choice for the home, library, or classroom, our Beginnings collection has something to spark or sustain budding curiosity in any child. You can find the 'Beginnings' collection on Science Naturally's sister company Platypus Media's website.