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Albert Einstein for Kids
By: Jason Haas Teacher's Foreword Hello, teachers! I am a student at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, and I have a dream. My dream is that children will be able to see this article, and that it will strike a cord in them. I wish that students in the 3rd-6th grade levels would read this article and see the importance and the magic of Albert Einstein. Perhaps they will take it so close to heart that they will choose a career in science and/or assimilate Einstein's ingenious way of viewing the world, his gentle nature, and vision into their own person. I chose Einstein to be the topic of my article in this magazine because I am not a particularly good scientist, and I thought that biography would be an interesting way for me to explore science. Einstein is probably one of the most influential figures in science in the twentieth century, but more importantly, he was a man of great character. I chose to present this outstanding scientific figure to children due to his appeal to humanity in general, and not just scientists. He was a kind and modest man who did not accept social convention, who thought about more than science and who was always eager to learn. Children need role models like Einstein; they need role models who wished to learn no matter how old they were. They need role models who will teach them that it is OK to stray from the pack and be themselves. They need a dreamer like Einstein to inspire their own dreams. I have watched a great deal of children's television (a source of a great deal of information for children) and I have found very little that provides a realistic, practical approach to science and scientists. Science as I see it is the pursuit of knowledge that makes the universe seem more ordered. Einstein put it more eloquently when he said, "Science is the centuries-old endeavor to bring together by means of systematic thought the perceptible phenomena of this world into as thorough-going an association as possible." Television would have children believe that science is a very complex structure handled only by stereotypically "nerdy" characters which results in performing the impossible, or drives scientists to goals of world domination. God knows that children see scientists as either "dorky" or crazy. It is painstakingly obvious that the evil, mad scientist image that is so popular on television is based on Einstein, from the slovenly clothing, to the wild, long, white hair, to the bushy moustache, to the German accent. These images of science however, must give children the wrong impression. Children come to see science with tones of evil and magic (reminiscent of primitive views), and come to see science as something handled by a certain group of people with certain characteristics. Children do not get to see science as a method by which people come to better understand the universe. For those children who may have budding interest in science, I hope to steer them towards this view of science, making science as a concept easier to deal with and more attractive. For students who are less interested in science, I hope to instill in them a curiosity and sense of wonder that Albert Einstein the man imparts in me. Hopefully, even if the student doesn't like science, they can learn from Einstein's approach to science and to the rest of the world. I would hope they could learn from Einstein's decision to approach everything with a fresh perspective and without prejudice. For this site, I drew heavily on Robert Cwikliks' Albert Einstein and the Theory of Relativity. All of the examples of relativity come from his
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book, as well as some of the other science. I also researched in the Gerald Holton book, Einstein, History and Other Passions, the Einstein chapter of Gardener's Creating...