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Sigal Tifferet

Senior Lecturer, Ruppin Academic Center


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How can a talented teenager prepare himself for a scientific career? What do you scientists recommend? (Personal experiences, please).

My son is 16 years old and is very interested in science (Physics, Biology, Math). He would like to hear your recommendations on how to prepare for a scientific career. Is this a critical period to learn things that will be difficult to learn later? Are there non-academic experiences he should try? We are especially interested in personal experiences of all of you scientists out there.

Let me add that my son (Alon) is the one who nudged me a few times to post this question. He studies at a democratic school, meaning that he has full freedom to do whatever he pleases with his time at school. A big portion of his choices are science-related, but he does other things as well (basketball, juggling).


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    May 17 2011: He might be interested in philosophy of science?

    Does he like to do experiments to figure out how things work?

    Being skeptical (questioning everything) is also a good skill to fine-tune... maybe even some things about human logical fallacies...
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      May 18 2011: Alon: Thank you for your interesting response. I am not interested in philosophy of science. But figuring out how things work is one of my biggest interests. Being skeptical is interesting.

      Sigal: Alon is skeptical from birth, this is one of the things I do foster in all of my kids, but I do believe much of it is genetic. His grandfather, for instance, specializes in decision making and fallacies (this is a popular area for Israelis, perhaps due to Tversky and Kahaneman).
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        May 18 2011: Alon:
        How come science works?

        Sigal: :-) Tversky and Kahneman... very good psychologists! (I like them both)
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        May 25 2011: Alon,
        I think your answer is one way to see it. And I don't think it is wrong.

        I asked this question to myself, and that was what led me to investigate the philosophy of science, or rather to the central question of (what we call) epistemology ("explainology"): "how can we know what we know?" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epistemology).

        As science, through all the investigating and thinking and experimenting, appears to be a very good way to obtain knowledge.
        So I think science actually follows the the answers to that epistemological question.

        that said, I wanted to tantalize your interest in philosophy a bit... but I can understand that doing actual science (or using it,...) might be a lot more fun to do than philosophizing about it...
        • May 31 2011: In my opinion, working out what science can prove/investigate is just as valuable as investigating/proving, if not more.

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