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Science

How Melinda Gates Got Her Daughters Excited About Science (geekwire.com) 106

theodp writes: GeekWire reports that Melinda Gates concluded a Davos panel discussion about gender parity with a personal story about her own family, explaining how she originally became interested in computer science, and how she later played Lab Manager to Bill's Mr. Wizard to help pass along their passion for science and math to their kids. "On Saturday mornings," Gates explained, "I wanted to sleep late. So you know what I did? I made sure there were science projects available, and that's what he did with our two daughters and our son. And guess what my two daughters are interested in? Science and math."
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How Melinda Gates Got Her Daughters Excited About Science

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  • How I got my kids exited about using better operating systems .
  • naturally? And maybe they'll pick up hobbies that interest them on their own.

    • naturally? And maybe they'll pick up hobbies that interest them on their own.

      Disagree. Having an environment where something can develop is pretty important in my opinion.

      Anecdotes from my childhood:
      * Positives: free availability of encyclopaedias, the town library, "how to" books, books about experiments, workshop with many hand and power tools, some scrap materials.
      * Negatives: Due to financial constraints and living far away from shops on farm, scarcity of some materials like light/torch bulbs, batteries, good quality wire, magnets, some chemicals. Due to improvising with scra

    • by Sique ( 173459 ) on Tuesday January 26, 2016 @07:15AM (#51372471) Homepage
      Children learn by imitation. You have to give an example to children, so they learn from you, even if the example is how to look for something interesting to do. Just sit there and wait until the children pick something up themselves is a recipe for disaster. All your children will learn is how to passively sit there and wait until something happens.
      • This, for what its worth our strategy which seems to have worked so far was to spend time on a bunch of Parks & Rec classes on diverse things and see what clicked. If it clicked she got more of them. Since P&R courses were (relatively) cheap, we could afford to do the shotgun approach.

        We ended up with a kid who loves electronics, piano and skiing.

        Min

      • by houghi ( 78078 )

        Most interest will start by 'spending time with daddy or mommy', regardless what that is. And even that will not be a given they are later interested in the subject.

        At the age of 16, I discovered computers and also started to spend less time with daddy and mommy. They have absolutely no idea how computers work. They do not even OWN a computer, yet I have an interest in them.

        I know ,any have have followed their parents and even more who did not.

        Although it is nice for Melinda and Bill that their kids show th

  • by chthon ( 580889 ) on Tuesday January 26, 2016 @07:09AM (#51372455) Homepage Journal

    What does she have as proof that, if she had not done this, then they would not have been interested in science and maths?

  • "On Saturday mornings," Gates explained, "I wanted to sleep late. So you know what I did? I made sure there were science projects available, and that's what he did with our two daughters and our son. And guess what my two daughters are interested in? Science and math."

    "On Saturday mornings," Gates explained while looking down her nose at the little people, "I wanted to sleep late. So you know what I did? I spent your money on educational toys, after Bill and his company were convicted of abusing Microsoft's monopoly position to grow both the company and our personal fortune. And just guess how much better my kids did than yours! Now imagine how secure their futures will be, no matter how useless they are, since Bill succeeded in dodging taxes by creating a for-profit foundation!"

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Nice ad-hominem, but that doesn't change the fact that this is good advice and applicable to everyone, rich or not. Schools and charities can just as well provide educational science projects and classes. Her point is that it works equally well for both genders, which is apparently controversial for some people, but mostly obvious to educators.

      • Nice ad-hominem, but that doesn't change the fact that this is good advice and applicable to everyone, rich or not.

        It's applicable to everyone who can afford it because they are more privileged than those from whom they have stolen. This principle writ large and small is how capitalism works. As we practice it, it is a negative-sum game because we are spending natural capital faster than it is replenished.

    • "On Saturday mornings," Gates explained, "I wanted to sleep late. So you know what I did? I made sure there were science projects available, and that's what he did with our two daughters and our son. And guess what my two daughters are interested in? Science and math."

      "On Saturday mornings," Gates explained while looking down her nose at the little people, "I wanted to sleep late. So you know what I did? I spent your money on educational toys, after Bill and his company were convicted of abusing Microsoft's monopoly position to grow both the company and our personal fortune. And just guess how much better my kids did than yours! Now imagine how secure their futures will be, no matter how useless they are, since Bill succeeded in dodging taxes by creating a for-profit foundation!"

      "I taught them about manipulating 12 figure holdings and how to make legal donations to politicians, which we were failing to do, which is why they sicced their machinery on us. I showed them how Google donated to US federal and state politicians, and politicians of European countries, but neglected to donate to EU officials in Brussels, and look what happened."

  • On Saturday mornings, I wanted to sleep late. So you know what I did? I made sure there were science projects available, and that's what he did with our two daughters and our son.

    Amazing. One would think that a family with that sort of wealth at their disposal might be able to hire all sorts of nannies/governesses/tutors at any hour of the month to keep their kids occupied (and educated) while they slept in - whether on a weekend or on any other day of the week.

    Cudos for keeping it real and staying in touch with how the other half ^H^H^H^H 99.9999% lives.

    • Amazing. One would think that a family with that sort of wealth at their disposal might be able to hire all sorts of nannies/governesses/tutors at any hour of the month to keep their kids occupied (and educated) while they slept in - whether on a weekend or on any other day of the week.

      Cudos for keeping it real and staying in touch with how the other half ^H^H^H^H 99.9999% lives.

      Amazing. One would think that an intelligent, educated reader of Slashdot might be able to understand that this is a highly "massaged" version of the real story, which Melinda Gates' PR department disseminates to the 99%.

      Cudos for keeping your innocence and believing everything on the "Kardashians" TV shows.

      • by gtall ( 79522 )

        I don't think you can make those sorts of comparison unless we have some believable figures on butt size. The Kardashians are known for ample heft.

  • I wanted to sleep late. But you know what I did instead? I got up, made breakfast, did laundry, cut the grass, replaced a faucet, pressed and folded said laundry and then cleaned the kitchen. Oh, some days I also try to learn more computing languages on my own time because I can't do that on work time, can I?

    I resent the idea that the only thing separating my kids from a deep and abiding interest in all things science is if I only worked a little harder and got my lazy hiney out of bed earlier.

    If the Gates

  • by theodp ( 442580 ) on Tuesday January 26, 2016 @08:27AM (#51372647)

    Rediscovering Things of Science [mit.edu]: For many years [1940-1989], the Science Service produced a monthly series of science kits called "Things of Science", available by subscription. When I was a kid (in the 60s), I subscribed to Things of Science for several years. I suspect that many of us who chose careers in the sciences found at least part of our inspiration in those blue boxes that arrived in the mail every month (well, almost every month; sometimes we'd get manila envelopes, filled with stuff that wouldn't fit in the boxes). Each kit ("unit") had a booklet of experiments, and usually everything needed to perform them.

  • "How did Melinda Gates get her daughters interested in science?"

    Answer : "Like science or you're out of the will."

  • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Tuesday January 26, 2016 @09:05AM (#51372809)
    She threatened to force them to use Microsoft Bob if they didn't finish their science homework.
  • by King_TJ ( 85913 ) on Tuesday January 26, 2016 @11:17AM (#51373703) Journal

    I mean, sure ... it's good advice to stimulate the minds of your kids. Give them interesting things to do and figure out, and they might discover something they really like.

    But the idea that you can "steer" a kid into a career field based on what you gave them to do for fun as a kid? Nah.... doesn't work like that.

    When I was a kid, I realized I really liked working with those "50 in 1" electronics project kits like they sold at Radio Shack. (I think I actually discovered it first through a friend at school who had one.) My parents, both being teachers, were happy to spend their money on that kind of thing, so I occasionally got one of those kits for a birthday or Xmas present or what-not, for years after that. (For those unfamiliar, these were kits that came with a board full of springs and a box of components. You hooked up the components by slipping them into the springs, or occasionally inserting pieces of wire between certain springs, and made various things like an AM radio or a basic "alarm system".)

    Up through senior year of high school, I held onto that interest in electronics enough that I took a couple of optional electronics courses in school. Despite all of that? I never became an electrician or anything.... I find it useful to have a basic understanding of electronics. But as I became an adult, I learned how much MORE you really needed to know to do anything valuable with it, and that was just more than I wanted to do in the field.

    I think science is no different. I have a daughter now who likes science (her favorite class in school). But honestly, I also doubt she'll wind up in a scientific career because of other aspects of her personality and tendencies I see. It's one thing to find it "cool" to dissect something in a classroom, or to read about scientific discoveries and think "That's awesome!". But to actually get to the point where people want to hire you to work on those discoveries? That requires going through a LOT of stuff that's just not as fun or easy.

    How many of us enjoyed pretending we were astronauts as kids, and/or had an interest in science fiction? How many of you who did wound up working for NASA? Probably not NEARLY as many, right?

    I think all you can do as a parent is give your kids opportunities to think and learn. But don't expect you can direct them into a particular field or career path based on it.

    • by Nemyst ( 1383049 ) on Tuesday January 26, 2016 @11:25AM (#51373769) Homepage
      I don't think it was the Gates' intention to steer their daughters into scientific fields, either. They specifically mention being excited about science. Personally, I think that's what we need more than anything else: a population that's stimulated, that knows about science, technology, history and more, that understands, if not the whole thing, at least core concepts to a certain degree. That would give us a much more reliable voting base (critical thinking, knowledge on various issues), not to mention generally raise our intellect, which has all sorts of positive side-effects.

      Making a career in a scientific field is hard, and there's not that much demand for it anyway. Knowing and enjoying science, however, is something we should strive for everyone.
  • by peter303 ( 12292 ) on Tuesday January 26, 2016 @12:04PM (#51374071)
    She is a sphmore at of the top ranked tech schools in the world, but I was unable to google her major. Hint, its near the upcoming superbowl.
  • I am thinking that a couple of G notes would get the kids excited. Depending on how the parents have spoiled them so far, of course. It might take some promissory notes and a sports car.
  • It would have been much easier and more effective to just tell your kids, "We made BILLIONS with SCIENCE, and YOU CAN, TOO!". That would have interested them enough.

What this country needs is a good five cent microcomputer.

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