Test Tube

what when
Childhood attitudes 12 November 2007
who where
Various University of Nottingham

One of the questions I ask all scientists taking part in Test Tube is: "What were your childhhod attitudes to science?"

It always provides some interesting answers, and some of them are contained in the short film above.

I've also put this question to various people across the world via a few online science forums, and a selection of their replies are "copy and pasted" below. Links to the forums and all the replies can be found below:

- Click here for The Science Forum

- Click here for SciForums

"I distinctly remember my family I getting together and watching sunday night nature documentaries on PBS, which was always one of my favorite things. I also was particularly fond of toy animals, both plastic and stuffed, and accumulated loads of them. And, I liked dinosaurs. But I think that's as science-y as my childhood got outside of school related things. It wasn't until late college that I truly formed a solid vision of my future in science."
Post by paralith, Wasington DC

"I was first interested in religion which brought me to cynicism of it which than lead me to philosophy than turned my interest of science, especially space science. Of course both of my parents are phD scientists...so I followed the trait."
Post by Algae

"I really wish I had been more interested in science when I was in highschool, but the fact is that I really wasn't. I actually was under the impression back then that there really wasn't much more to discover. The only thing that really held a sense of mystery for me was art related studies such as painting, drawing, stage performance, music, and movies. In these subjects I felt there was an infinite amount of knowlege to learn and that my efforts to study these subject would not be wasted like they would have been in science. My interest in science really came about in the same way that Algae discribes for himself. Early this year I accidently ended up reading a book that contained a lot of philosophy, and this sparked an idea to learn a bit more. Before I finished the book I was reading though I ran into a friend that was studying Joseph Campbell. Joe Campbell really changed everything for me by drawing connections from the art I loved and studied for such a long time to ideas of the human psyche, and suddenly I was obsessed with the question why. I started asking questions about everything, and researching the answers to everything. This lead me eventually to physics."
Post by Demen Tolden, Minnesota, USA

"I was always one of those kids that kept on asking why. I always opened all my electric toys and soldered extra batteries to make them go faster, lengthened the cord from the control box to these cars and opened everything I could get my hands on to see how they looked on the inside. In primary school, I read all the science related books in the school library as soon as I was allowed to. In sixth grade I went to the public library and started reading all the science fiction I could get my hands on. I read all the Dr Who books they had and started moving over to non-fiction. In the eighth grade I started on more advanced books and discovered all the gems from Arthur C Clark, Asimov and the like. I'd rather watch documentaries than sitcoms and movies, except for sci-fi movies like Star Wars and Star Trek. (Strangely, I always stayed up late for the French art movies). I will never forget watching Contact for the first time and the overwhelming excitement I felt when Jodie Foster first heard the repeating pattern on her headphones. I waited until 3 in the morning once for the first images of the Mars Lander to be shown on Sky. In Short, I have always been fascinated by science in general and I never understood why nobody else shared my fascination."
Post by Kalster, South Africa

"Let's see, I was soldering at 5 and programming at 8. I use to read technical reference manuals as a kid for enjoyable reading. In the end I would say I was just kind of destine to the field. Nobody else in my family had the same drive in that direction."
Post by (In)Sanity, Phoenix AZ

"I used to like Space as a child and Star Trek. Never really cared about how things happened or why. But I was told I had the potential to be a great scientist, and then one night about `.5 years ago I had a brilliant idea about the universe and since then my love of Physics has rapidly grown and so has ALL my knowledge. My IQ was about 102 then, its now 126. An increase of 24 in 1.5 years. I personally beleive God pushed me in that direction some how. Shortly after my beleif in science I found Christianity and beleived in that too. How ironic ey? I tell you God works in extraordinary ways."
Post by svwillmer, England

"I'm not a scientist so my approach to it has always been a bit more armchair than hands on. But I realised I was interested when I was 5 or so and wanted my dad to tell me whether submarines were made of iron or of steel."
Posted by sunshinewarrio, London

"I'm not a scientist, I'm an engineer. I had some vague notion about going into the arts; I even enjoyed reading Paradise Lost for O-Level English Lit. Then O Level results more or less forced reality upon me, and A-Level chemistry was so easy and clear that Chemical Engineering seemed the right way to go. My interest in science arose from a lifelong skepticism, rather than any deep love of science itself. My dad gave me a book called "The Universe" that had a picture of the "Primordial Atom" in it. I thought, "all right then, where did it come from", which of course the book didn't address. (My son treasures the book now as an antique)."
Posted by Bunbury

"always had some interest in science, from when i was younger. kept with me all the way through secondary school, and now im here."
Posted by goodgod3rd, Donegal, Ireland

"I have always had an interest in certain parts of science, mainly the electronic side, school quashed my love of physics and chemistry and it was only rekindled after i left from my own person interests and jobs(lab technicians, prototype engineer etc). But school almost made me hate it.
Posted by captaincaveman

"I was always reading (looking at pictures) of the large popular science books that you my mother ordered from a specialized company. You know, the one where you are stuck with ordering for at least a year because the first order is relatively cheap.
Those books came in a few categories. A lot were about the war. My father liked those and I devoured them too.
The others were picked by my mother and were more sensible. There was one fantastic book on animal life. It went through the animal kingdom in a thorough fashion absent in the more modern versions. There was a lovely book on natural sciences with topics ranging from plate tectonics, to how rain falls. Loved that book too.
And then there were some substandard books on different animal groups.
I would read and re-read them. Mostly just going through them and look at the pictures when I was a tiny lad.
When i was a bit older I would start to actually read the text.
I still have fond memories of these specific books, although they are no great masterworks of science, or famous ones.
Posted by spuriousmonkey

"I was destined for a life in mathematics. I played with numbers. In second grade I was way ahead of the class and at the end of fifth grade I was so far beyond, learning algebra already, that they pushed me directly into seventh. That wasn't good enough so my father taught me differential calculus. I was never particularly good at geometry and trig, however, and by the time I entered the university as a "math whiz" I was stymied by things like set theory. I didn't know what to do with my dream of being a mathematician shattered, used my math skills to get a degree in accounting without having to study, and ended up as a computer programmer.
Fortunately I was also destined for a life of music, I picked up a glockenspiel when I was seven and I still play bass guitar in a band on the weekends. I was also destined for a life of linguistics and started learning Spanish when I was eleven, and I'm now Moderator of the Linguistics board. I always liked writing and these days I'm a professional writer and editor, and I enjoy the heck out of it.
Fortunately, one's destiny can emcompass many things."
Posted by Fraggle Rocker

"I had pets of all sorts. I went through the chemistry phase. I made pure chlorine gas by making salt water, submerging wires from a battery pile, pointing up, with test tubes over the tops. The Sodium collects on one wire, and the Chlorine collects on the other. This experiment was expressly forbidden in the instructions and labs that came with the chemistry set because 1 cc of Chlorine can kill a person. But, Chlorine is unbearable in much smaller concentrations, that made my parents whole house smell like a swimming pool. I lost the chemistry set for a while."
Posted by SwanSword