Although my mom doesn’t realize it, she destined me for a career in science communication.
Every year when the first signs of cold weather would appear, my mom would say, “Put your jacket on. You’re going to catch a cold.”
Her scientifically inaccurate statements – meant to elicit a desired action from me – didn’t end here.
I can vividly remember my mom saying, “If you want curly hair, eat your bread crust,” or “Don’t swallow your gum, or it’ll stay in your stomach for seven years.”
By age twelve, I knew enough about germs, genes and the digestive system that I often corrected her when she made these inaccurate statements. Since then, I have grown from a cheeky adolescent to a passionate science communicator and advocate.
It’s amazing how often I hear scientific inaccuracies muttered in day-to-day conversation. Instead of telling our children that cold temperatures lead to sickness, let’s be honest with them and explain what germs are. This might not entice them to wear their jacket, but at least you’re teaching them something valuable they can use in the future. Who knows, maybe your child with be a part of the next generation of science communicators.