Superior Science Education

by John O. Andersen

Perhaps you're a parent looking into supplemental camps or classes for your children. Maybe you'd like to get back into science yourself.

If you're like many people, the cost of science instruction, whether a camp, class, or college tuition, could be too much for your budget. But never fear. There is a zero cost way to learn about science.

Become a science museum volunteer!

In the USA, we have scores of science museums. If there isn't one in your local community, there's probably one a short drive away.

The largest science museum in our area offers a wide range of opportunities for volunteers to increase their knowledge of science and have fun at the same time. I suspect other museums would have similar options.

Here are just a few:

  • If the museum has hands-on labs (i.e., chemistry, physics, paleontology, computer, or life science), you could work in them. You may perform experiments for the public, and assist visitors in conducting their own experiments. If you're outgoing and friendly, this option could give you many teaching opportunities.

  • Be an interpreter and demonstrator in the changing exhibits hall. With three different exhibits each year, this could be like taking several college courses, only without the tests and lectures, and of course, tuition. If you're like me, the chance to teach visitors what you've learned helps cement it in your brain.

  • Be a tour guide for unique attractions. Our local museum has a decommissioned navy submarine. There is an ongoing need for volunteer tour guides on the boat. What a great way for a person to learn about submarines, and rub shoulders with the people who've actually lived and worked in them. Similarly, many other museums have unique attractions which provide opportunities for enthusiastic volunteer tour guides.

  • Assist with museum outreach programs such as traveling exhibits and summer camps.

  • Become a part of the exhibit design and building team.

These are just a few of the ways a museum volunteer might learn about science. I like to think that a person with the right combination of enthusiasm, curiosity, and self-confidence, could use the volunteer option as their primary vehicle to becoming a full-fledged science whiz.

Oh, on the cost: I lied a little. Being a volunteer won't cost you money, but it will cost you some of your spare time. Speaking for myself, I don't mind giving up a few hours of spare time each month in exchange for loads of intellectual stimulation, and what could very well be a superior science education.

John is a small business owner and a proponent of a simpler lifestyle. Send any questions or comments to

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