ScienceWiz makes learning fun for kids

August 8, 2012 7:39:54 PM PDT
Many scientists will tell you we are learning so much so fast that we have entered a "golden age of knowledge." But, many among us are scientifically illiterate, and even basic science is stuff we've either forgotten or never learned. One woman, however, is hoping to change all that.

Dr. Penny Norman is the mastermind behind ScienceWiz, a company that teaches science through kits and games. While she always planned on being a scientist, and earned a PhD in biophysics, it actually led her down a different path.

It's a full time job split between designing and manufacturing. Right now her husband is in China, working out the kinks on a new project called "cool circuits." Penny says it's basically a puzzle triggering a positive reinforcement.

Penny published her first kit back in 1995. And though it sold millions of copies, she says making money was never her primary goal. She just wants to make science fun and user-friendly. Each of her kits comes with a book and links to a website that anyone can use, whether they buy or not.

This approachability to science does not come about by accident. It begins in her living room with a friend, Ann Einstein, who is a distant relative to famous scientist Albert Einstein. The women met years ago when Ann ran a preschool where Penny had enrolled her daughter, "And she said, are you doing enough science?" Ann said. "And I said, well I'd love to do more science, but when you get science things, they never work."

Well, they work now in Penny's hands-on kits that show kids how to use batteries to power electric motors, or drop pumice into water to see one kind of rock that can float, or they drop alka seltzer tablets into oil and water to simulate the forces that move Earth's tectonic plates.

When it comes to science, mankind has learned quite a lot. Well, some of mankind, anyway. As for the rest of us, don't blame Dr. Penny Norman.


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