Stephen Colbert: “Where do you think we need to go as a nation to increase scientific literacy?
Neil deGrasse Tyson: “I’ll answer it two-pronged. One is: what do you do with your kids? And kids need to be able to explore freely and if you look at most households they’re not designed for that, they’re designed to have the kid not explore. The kid comes into your kitchen and pulls out the pots and pans and starts banging on them, what’s the first thing you do as a parent? ‘Stop that, you’re getting the dishes dirty!’ Yet these are experiments in acoustics. Whatever the kid is doing, if it has the chance of breaking something you’re gonna to tell them to not do it without thinking that that’s the consequence of an experiment that they are conducting and every time the kid wants to do something (provided it doesn’t kill them) it’s an experiment. Let it run its course even if it makes something messy. You agreed to have a kid in the first place, fine, clean up after them. When they’re old enough [they will have] those seeds of curiosity that is the foundation of what it is to become a scientist. I don’t want everybody to be a scientist that’d be a boring world. I’m talking about promoting science literacy and so the first step for the parents is to get out of the way. Allow the child to explore. If they start playing in the mud [and you say] ‘Don’t do that in the mud I just cleaned those pants!’ You’re getting in the way of another experiment. If they start plucking the petals off the flowers you just bought from the florist and you say ‘Stop that! I just paid $10 for the flowers”? Had you let that continue they’d find in the middle the stamen, and the pistil and they’d learn something about the flower for 10 bucks that’s cheap!”