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Why Should I Make My Child Take Science?
He Wants to Be a Concert Violinist!

by Jay L. Wile, Ph.D.

When I was a graduate student at the University of Rochester, I used to attend weekly seminars that were called "Frontiers in Science." I wish I could say that I attended them in order to expand my horizons and learn more about my chosen field of study. Alas, the real reason that I attended was the free lunch served during the presentation! Nevertheless, most of the seminars I attended were interesting, and they allowed me to learn about scientific pursuits that I had never heard of before.

One of the seminars I attended was given by a man with a Ph.D. in physics. He had a major research grant from two musical instrument companies, and with this money he was trying to determine what made Stradivarius instruments so outstanding. He used various chemical and physical techniques to analyze several different Stradivarius instruments, trying to find some "secret ingredient" that the master added to them. The conclusion of his research, however, was that no such ingredient exists. There was nothing extraordinary about any of the components used by Stradivarius. Instead, the instruments became extraordinary when crafted by the master.

Now all of this was quite fascinating to me, but throughout the seminar, I had a nagging question in the back of my mind. How in the world did this guy come up with such a marvelous research idea? At the time, I was being trained to be a nuclear chemist, so I took a large number of physics and chemistry courses. It had never occurred to me, however, to apply physics and chemistry to a problem such as this.

After the seminar was over, I asked the man my nagging question. He smiled a bit and told me a rather long story. When he was growing up, he showed a real talent for playing the violin. As a result, he wanted to grow up to be a concert violinist. As he went through school, he took the minimum science and math that was required of him and instead concentrated on the arts. In high school, he was required to take two science courses: biology and chemistry. He took them, hated them both, and never took another science again. When he graduated, he auditioned for and was accepted into The Eastman School of Music, arguably the most prestigious music school in the nation. After he completed his second year, he started really questioning his chosen field. Nevertheless, he stuck it out and graduated with a degree in violin performance.

By the time he graduated, however, he really hated his chosen field. He played in a few orchestras as a professional, be he didn't like it. One night, however, he started reading a book about the physics of how a violin works. He was fascinated! He couldn't understand all of the physics in the book, though, so he decided to enroll in a community college physics course to learn enough to understand what he read. Well, he was so fascinated by his course work that he continued in physics, eventually getting his Ph.D!

What's the point to my story? It's actually quite simple. Had this man been forced to take physics in high school, he would have discovered his fascination much earlier. He could have skipped the whole process of getting a violin performance degree and gone straight into a field that he enjoyed. This would have saved him time, money, and a lot of frustration!

So when your homeschooled student says that he or she hates science and you are tempted to just stop forcing the course work on your frustrated student, think about my story. If you are really interested in giving your child all of the information necessary for career exploration, you will make sure that he or she has been exposed to all subjects in science!

About the author: Jay L. Wile earned a Ph.D. from the University of Rochester in nuclear chemistry and a B.S. in chemistry from the same institution. He has won several awards for excellence in teaching and has presented numerous lectures on the topics of Nuclear Chemistry, Christian Apologetics, Homeschooling, and Creation vs. Evolution. In addition, he has published 30 articles on these subjects in nationally-recognized journals. His teaching credentials include:

The University of Rochester
Indiana University
Ball State University
The Indiana Academy for Science, Mathematics and Humanities (a high school for gifted and talented students)

Currently, Dr. Wile writes curriculum for homeschoolers as well as Christian apologetics material. He has written five high school science textbooks designed specifically for homeschooled students as well as one Christian apologetics book. See Dr. Wile's products at Christian Book Distributors' Apologia specialty shop. Dr. Wile can be reached from his website for Apologia Educational Ministries. Resources Related to This Article's interview with Jay L. Wile, Ph.D.
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