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May 20th, 2012

Rocket Science and Brain Surgery

I've been thinking about the phrases "It's not rocket science" and "It's not brain surgery." What do these statements have in common?

Science.

The implication is that the task in question is easy, and thus that rocket science and brain surgery are hard.

Science is hard.

I wonder how that belief has affected our perceptions. Does it keep kids from choosing science as a career? Does it dissuade them from taking science electives? Does it make it easier for them to give up on science?

It's not like it's common to say:
"It's not a persuasive essay."
"It's not spelling."
"It's not like signing a yearbook or birthday card." (Which to me is much harder than science.)

Although it's pretty common to say
"Easy as pie." (Have you ever tried to make a lemon meringue pie?)
"Easy as ABC, 123, do re mi, baby, you and me."



Reading and writing and 'rithmatic.

What about science? If we keep telling each other--and our kids--that it's hard, it will be.
Good teachers can make science accessible and fun.
And easy.

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jjhoutman
Jacqueline Houtman
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I'm a freelance science writer based in Madison, WI. I also write sciency fiction for kids. My award-winning debut novel, THE REINVENTION OF EDISON THOMAS, was published by Front Street/Boyds Mills Press in March 2010.

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