A few years ago, a friend and supervisor of mine at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science asked me to take the StrengthFinder 2.0 test. My number one strength? LEARNER. The news came as a surprise to… absolutely no one. I loved school and would have become a professional student if that would have paid me a living wage. Instead, throughout high school and college, I figured I would become a scientist in order to satisfy my never-ending curiosity and desire to understand the world.
As the winds of change blew, I never became a cultural botanist searching the rain forests of the world for the cure to cancer. Nor did I become the next Jane Goodall, zen-fully observing primates. Along the way, I discovered that I also loved cultivating curiosity and authentic learning in others as much as I loved learning for myself. I took one job after another as a science or environmental educator. Perhaps it had something to do with another strength of mine: MAXIMIZER – I love to help others maximize their own strengths.
Not everyone will register as a LEARNER on the StrengthFinder test, but I do believe that curiosity is inherent within our species. If years of working with children of all ages strongly supported this truth, living with two young daughters has completely confirmed my suspicions. At some point around two and a half years old, the “Why” phase begins. Or at least that is when it becomes a favorite word. The exploring phase begins from birth. For scientists, engineers, tinkerers, explorers, learners, and others – whether by passionate, willful curiosity or supportive adult guidance – this phase never ends.
Many of us will stop putting everything in our mouth to taste our world as part of the exploration.
Most of us will eventually stop wondering if a bead, garbanzo bean or Lego will fit in our nostril.
[Or will we?]
However I propose that none of us ever really stop wondering “Why?” The desire to understand our world is built into our genetic code. Social constructs may sometimes prohibit us from saying it out loud. Tired parents and over-worked teachers may sometimes dampen the curiosity (although it should be said that a great many do an excellent job of encouraging inquiry and investigation). Somewhere, deep down inside, don’t we all wonder “Why?” just a little bit?
My goal for this blog is to pique your curiosity about the world around you and to help you do the same for others. Whether you ask, “Why?” as much as my almost 3 year old, are an armchair science enthusiast, a teacher looking for interesting ways to incorporate science into your curricula, an informal science educator, a parent, or someone who has accidentally stumbled across this blog, I hope that it intrigues you, inspires you to learn more, and offers you a space for compelling conversations about science, the world, and learning.
Welcome to the Curiosity Field Notebook!