About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and chairs EPA’s Multilingual Communications Task Force. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.
Summer vacation is fast approaching and many parents are looking for activities to entertain their children during the summer months. Now is the best time to plan ahead so you and your children can find fun ways to explore the environment and learn about science at summer camps and children’s museums throughout the country. In the Washington area, there are many museum-related science enrichment opportunities for children. Organizations like 4-H, the Boys and Girls Scouts of America also offer fun and hands-on activities during the summer and year round. In fact, these organizations were engaging youth in environmental protection even before going green became the latest fad.
EPA’s website offers a variety of fun facts and projects for students and educators to learn more about the environment and the importance of science in our daily lives. For example, the Water Science and Technology Office, provides interesting activities, science projects and games. The Agency’s Office of Environmental Education offers educational resources, grants opportunities and fellowships to encourage individuals to learn more about how their actions affect the environment. This knowledge is essential to enable them to make better informed decisions to protect the world we live in.
In speaking with many of my colleagues at EPA and other federal agencies such as NASA, NOAA, USGS, there is one common theme in their motivation to pursue a career in the sciences. In the majority of the cases, their love of science did not start in the classroom. It started with personal experiences at home, a trip to the park, a visit to the beach, a fishing trip, a starry spring evening… These simple experiences helped awaken their sense of wonder and awe at an early age. This sense of exploration for the world around us is essential for any researcher or scientist. Why do we see lightning before hearing thunder? Why do certain elements react the way they do? What are the impacts of human activities on the environment?
We don’t have to have Ph.D’s to teach our children to explore their surroundings. There are simple steps we can take to protect our environment. And when you come to think about it, at the heart of many of these activities, you will find science. So let the fun begin!