An exerpt from the Forward by Bruce Alberts, President, National Academy of Sciences: "The challenge for all of us who want to improve education is to create an educational system that exploits the natural curiosity of children, so that they maintain their motivation for learning not only during their school years but throughout life. We need to convince teachers and parents of the importance of children's "why" questions. I'm reminded of the profound effect that Richard Feynman's father had on his development as a scientist. One summer, in the Catskills Mountains of New York when Feynman was a boy, another boy asked him, 'See that bird. What kind of bird is that?' Feynman answered 'I haven't the slightest idea.' The other boy replied, 'Your father doesn't teach you anything!' But his father had taught Feynman about the bird -- though in his own way. As Feynman recalls his father's words:
'See that bird? It's a Spencer's warbler.' (I knew he didn't know the real name.) '. . . You can know the name of that bird in all the languages of the world, but when you're finished, you'll know absolutely nothing whatever about the bird. You'll only know about humans in different places and what they call the bird. So let's look at the bird and see what it's doing -- that's what counts.'
The book you are about to read illuminates this approach to teaching science. It builds on the discussion of inquiry in the National Science Education Standards to demonstrate how those responsible for science education can provide young people with the opportunities they need to develop their scientific understanding and ability to inquire."