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Creativity and Science Go Hand-in-Hand

Photo: Courtesy of Andy Weir

Andy Weir, author of “The Martian,” talks about the importance of inspiring creativity and independence in kids as they are introduced to STEM topics.

Why is it important for students to be creative?

Creativity is a basic skill that is beneficial to literally any profession. It doesn’t matter if you’re a physicist or a plumber. The physicist has to work out a creative way to get protons moving near the speed of light and the plumber has to work out a creative way to get the hot water line laterally across the house without cutting any holes in load-bearing beams. Creativity is a core component of  all thinking. 

Why is it important to get kids involved with science early in their education?

The most important thing is to expose them to STEM — not to try and force them into doing it all the time. The world needs scientists, but it also needs artists. The objective is to give the kids the information they need to find out what their passions are. STEM education — especially in the earlier grades — allows kids to discover if they have a love of science or not. If they do, that can be fostered. 

What was your childhood exposure to STEM like?

My father was a physicist, so my role model was already a scientist. Back when I was a school student, there weren’t any specific STEM initiatives — I don’t know if the term STEM had even been invented yet. But I had math and science classes, like anyone else, and I loved them. 

What’s your biggest piece of advice for parents looking to inspire their children?

Don’t try to force an interest in your kid toward any specific thing. If they show an interest in science, foster it. If they don’t, they don’t. If you force a child to do something, they’re not going to develop a passion for it. You just have to let the kid decide on their own.

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