Started on June 3 by medical writer, “20-something geek,” and ScienceBlogs fan Mina Murray, Weird Science is a blog written specifically for adolescents. But with posts on levitating light bulbs, antidepressants for pets, and new fingerprinting techniques, Weird Science will tickle kids of any age who are interested in the hows and whys of new scientific discoveries. We recently asked Mina about science education for kids and how her readers have responded so far.
Who’s your target audience?
I wanted to focus on kids who are in the ‘tween’ and ‘teen’ groups.
Why start a science blog for kids?
I had a few reasons for starting the blog. One was simply for the creative enjoyment that comes with sharing my passion for science. I spend my days doing medical writing, copywriting and editing for adult audiences. Even when writing for consumer audiences, however, I still thought: How cool would it be to simplify it further for kids?
How’s your site different from others that cyber-teach science to kids?
I think most science resources for kids, although still important, aren’t particularly encouraging of critical thought (while still being fun!). There are many wonderful science resources for kids on the I-net but they seem to shy away from controversial topics, such as stem cells. While there’s always some degree of censorship and age-appropriate topics when communicating with kids (you certainly won’t see me showing a potty mouth by swearing!), I think it’s super important that kids aren’t shielded from issues that affect our world. An example of this is my post on the antidepressant Reconcile, which treats depression in dogs. I think that many adults fear sharing an opinion with kids because they worry that kids either can’t handle hearing controversy or that they are too easily swayed and are unable to critically form opinions. I have faith that the curiosity and intelligence of kids will allow them to read my blog and make up their own minds.
How has your reader response been so far? Any great comments?
One of the funniest comments I received was actually in an email from the parent of a girl who read my blog post titled, ‘Gone Today, Back Tomorrow,’ which was about stem cells and genes to treat baldness. The girl’s dad emailed me to say that he liked the idea of his daughter reading about science instead of her usual fashion stuff, but now she was nagging him to get stem cell treatment for his receding hairline. He then went on to say that between his daughter and his wife nagging, it was a wonder he had any hair left.
What’s next for Weird Science?
One thing that I am excited about is the upcoming contribution from guest bloggers. I have several writers who are scheduled to contribute in the coming months, including a chemist, neuroscientist, marine biologist and a science teacher. Although they come from different scientific areas, they are all keen to communicate with kids through their writing.
Image: Jeff Lieberman/Weird Science