Recently my nephew has decided that he wants to be a scientist when he grows up. And he wants me to "teach him how to be a scientist person". So I decided I better put together a simple guide to becoming a scientist.
If you ask most scientists why they became scientists, the answer will often be because they were just curious about finding out how stuff works. If you just look around you and accept everything at face value, you might not make the greatest science. But if you have a sense of curiosity, and always want to know WHY, then you're already on your way to being an awesome investigator.
As a scientist, my job basically involves asking questions. Why does X happen? What is the relationship between X and Y? What happens if I do Z? The day I run out of questions is probably the same day that I run out of a job.
Kids do this automatically. When you're a parent of a small child, answering their billions of daily questions can be absolutely exhausting.
But if they grow up to be scientists someone will pay them to ask all those questions, so encourage it!
Science experiments are so much fun. And the good thing is you don't need a fancy laboratory or expensive gear to do experiments. There are about a million and one websites that have home science experiments - whether it's making slime, growing seeds, making volcanos, playing with magnets, or looking at the insects in your own backyard. Science experiments are a pretty regular occurrence in our house, and my son is growing up with a great sense of confidence in asking questions, creating hypotheses, and testing things out.
You've probably heard a lot about STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths). But many of us like to talk about STEAM instead - adding the arts to the mix. Scientists solve problems by being creative and looking at things in new ways.
Science isn't just for old guys in white lab coats. It's for everyone. And if you're curious, ask questions, experiment and be creative, you're already a scientist in my eyes.