Neil deGrasse Tyson – Let Kids Be Kids

World-renowned cosmologist Neil deGrasse Tyson shares one profoundly simple piece of parenting advice about a child’s innate desire for exploration.


Kids are born scientists. They’re always turning over rocks and plucking petals off of flowers. They’re always doing things that by and large are destructive. That’s what exploration kind of is. If you take stuff apart, whether or not you know how to put it back together. This is what kids do. An adult scientist is a kid who never grew up. That’s what an adult scientist does. What happens at home, is the kid reaches in the refrigerator, pulls out an egg and starts juggling it. What’s the first thing you do as a parent? Stop playing with the egg. It could break. Put it back. Excuse me. This is an experiment in the material strength of. Let the kid find out that when it drops, it breaks. This is a physics experiment rapidly turned into a biology experiment, okay. The yolk ooses out. You say, hey, that becomes a chickie one day, okay? Wait. How does this gooey yolk become a chicken? Well, that’s biology. Check that out. And what did the egg cost you? 20 cents?

The president of Harvard once said, if you think education is expensive, you should try the cost of ignorance. So, we don’t have enough parents who understand or know how to value the inquisitive nature of their own kids because they want to keep order in their household. Kids go into the kitchen and pull out all the pots and pans, and start banging on them. What’s the first thing you say as a parent? Stop making all that noise. Stop the racket. You’re getting the pots and pans dirty. You just squashed an entire experiment in acoustics.

So, I’m not worried about kids. People say, what can I do to get my kids interested in science. They’re already interested in science. You’re the one who’s the problem. Almost my entire professional energy is focused on adults because they out number kids. They vote. They run the world. They wield opportunities. Kids will be fine.