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Sciencey Heroes For Young Children?

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the how-about-godzilla? dept.

Science 614

An anonymous reader writes "Unhappy that all his friends have heroes he knows nothing about (they've all chosen hockey players — actually a hockey player: Sidney Crosby), my eight-year-old son asked me if I would find him a 'cool hero.' When pressed to define 'cool,' he very earnestly gave me this list of acceptable professions: 'Astronauts, explorers, divers, scientists, and pilots.' A second and only slightly less worthy tier of occupations includes 'inventors, meteorologists, and airplane designers.' To be eligible for hero status, an individual must be (1) accomplished in one of these fields, (2) reasonably young (it pains me to report that Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger, NASA's youngest astronaut and now just 31, barely makes the cut), and, critically to my naive son's way of thinking, (3) respected by third graders nationwide. Ignoring that last criterion, or not, what heroes would you suggest from the sciences as people whose lives and accomplishments would be compelling to an eight-year-old mind?"

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Peter Parker? (0, Offtopic)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 3 years ago | (#34263766)

I heard he got first place in his high school science fair. I have no idea why he's pursing a career in photojournalism.

Re:Peter Parker? (3, Interesting)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#34263826)

Back in the day, real photographers were all chemists. Thus the photography link with a chemistry kit (and web fluid).

Richard Stallman (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34263780)

Richard Stallman - he may not be cool but holds the world record for number of cocks sucked in a day. That's a hero in my book.

Re:Richard Stallman (0, Offtopic)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 3 years ago | (#34264034)

Richard Stallman - he may not be cool but holds the world record for number of cocks sucked in a day. That's a hero in my book.

Damn! He sure like chicken! Why doesn't he eat hens like the rest of us?

Not so hard to find (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34263784)

Tell him Tony Stark is what he is looking for.

Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger is 35... (4, Informative)

King InuYasha (1159129) | more than 3 years ago | (#34263798)

Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger is 35 as of this year, not 31....

Re:Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger is 35... (3, Funny)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#34263974)

Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger is 35 as of this year, not 31....

To be fair, I don't believe math was a requirement listed by his son.

Re:Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger is 35... (3, Funny)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 3 years ago | (#34264194)

His kid probably asked the question 4 and a half years ago and it took this long to get published on slashdot. His math is probably good.

This should be obvious to all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34263800)

Captain Jean-Luc Picard, of the starship U.S.S. Enterprise.

Re:This should be obvious to all (2, Funny)

MachDelta (704883) | more than 3 years ago | (#34264170)

I believe that's supposed to be written...

"Cap-tin Jean-Luc-Pic-ard ofthe U-S-S En-ter-prise" /technobeat

Here's a few (3, Insightful)

mknewman (557587) | more than 3 years ago | (#34263808)

Mythbusters Adam and Jamie, Dean Kamin, and even Mike Rowe come to mind.

Re:Here's a few (2, Insightful)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 3 years ago | (#34264054)

They're TV performers - none of them studied science academically - what? Russian Lit and no college for the other one?

Neil DeGrasse Tyson would be my best suggestion.

Re:Here's a few (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34264090)

XKCD Zombie Feynman says, "so what?" They've got the spirit of it, if not the formalism and rigor.

This is even more the case since we're looking at examples for young children who need the showmanship and wouldn't appreciate the difference anyway.

You have a bigger problem. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34263810)

Great. Just what the world needs, more Sidney Crosby fans.

Maybe they're adopted?

Age is a Problem (4, Interesting)

TheWanderingHermit (513872) | more than 3 years ago | (#34263816)

His friends are all looking at sports heroes and you're looking at people with long careers. There's a big difference.

Athletes only have a few decades in which they'll do well, then they retire. So it's easy to find a younger athlete as a hero: as they get older, they lose it.

But almost all the other professions take time to get experienced in. They require learning and years of experience to excel, other than something like astronaut, which can include younger people.

Too bad you can't include people like Chuck Yeager or Wiley Post.

Re:Age is a Problem (1)

Brucelet (1857158) | more than 3 years ago | (#34264108)

What on Earth (or off it) makes you say that being an astronaut doesn't take years of training and experience?

the youngest billionaire in the world of course (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34263818)

mark zuckerberg, ill say he fits the bill on all 3.... im sure kids that young are on facebook. Maybe not, i know people that use it like 8 year olds tho :)

Re:the youngest billionaire in the world of course (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34264168)

He's not in any of of the fields the OP asked for, including being an inventor, what with the idea for Facebook having been stolen. Also, if it were me, I wouldn't want my kids looking up to him, similarly to how I wouldn't want them looking up to Bill Gates - he's far from heroic in any sense of the word.


hipp5 (1635263) | more than 3 years ago | (#34263820)

Jacques Cousteau is pretty damn cool. He kinda fails #2 though. Perhaps one of the younger Cousteaus?

Adventurer / Surgeon / Rock Star (2, Interesting)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#34263838)

Buckaroo Banzai

Re:Adventurer / Surgeon / Rock Star (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34263930)

I don't think it's possible for me to like this any harder than I already do.

Re:Adventurer / Surgeon / Rock Star (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34263942)

Reed Richards - He's all that+, & perpetually young.*

  *Nuff said!

Adam Savage (1)

celtica (1223770) | more than 3 years ago | (#34263846)

from Mythbusters

Re:Adam Savage (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34263876)

Mythbusters hardly qualifies as science. I know the G4 crowd likes to think its science but these are the same people who think that Tremors: The Series is science fiction...

Re:Adam Savage (1, Offtopic)

morari (1080535) | more than 3 years ago | (#34263990)

Thank you! Mythbusters is just a bunch of guys goofing around. The scientific method rarely plays a part in their form of entertainment. Besides, am I the only one who thinks the main guys' personalities (especially the one without the beret) are annoying as heck?

Re:Adam Savage (1)

Creepy (93888) | more than 3 years ago | (#34264212)

Well they certainly use scientific method to prove or disprove myths. I had a massive argument with a gamemaster for Traveller about explosive decompression - I said it just wouldn't happen with a small hole like a gunshot hole (simply because the hole isn't big enough), he said it would. This guy was working on a doctorate in physics - and mythbusters proved him wrong - too bad it was 10 years too late.

Carl Sagan (5, Insightful)

Ninja Programmer (145252) | more than 3 years ago | (#34263852)

There is no other.

Re:Carl Sagan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34264008)

Following in his lineage, Brian Cox is kind of "cool".

NIKOLA TESLA (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34264190)

See subject-line...


P.S.=> He's a PRIME EXAMPLE of that "once in a generation mind"... apk

Behold, Captain Entropy! (4, Funny)

Ikronix (1233418) | more than 3 years ago | (#34263854)

...the superhero with the power to wait patiently while supervillains expend too much energy, returning them to an inert and nonthreatening state!

That scientist guy, Fargo, (1)

Qubit (100461) | more than 3 years ago | (#34263858)

in Eureka.

He's pretty young. Who cares if he's not real. Heroes are larger than life, anyhow, right?

Disregarding your criteria... (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 3 years ago | (#34263864)

AronRa [youtube.com]. It's possible I'm old and out of touch, but I have to think your son would find him cool.

He fails most of your criteria -- he's still a student (in his spare time) though he certainly seems to know his stuff, he's a scientist/biker (and definitely looks the 'biker' part), he's likely not young enough -- but I'd encourage your son to look at the man before passing judgment (I hope I look that good at that age), and if third-graders nationwide knew anything about him, I have to imagine they'd feel the same way.

The Doctor (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34263872)

Although, he might be too old. It really depends on your scale.

Who needs a hero? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34263882)

You kid seems smart. Maybe ask why he feels the need to have a hero? And why this hero needs to pass some sort of test of being 'accepted by your kids peers' ?
I understand the need for kids to fit in somehow, but maybe he can transcend this.

young einstein? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34263886)

Pretty hard for a scientist to have lots of accomplishments before the age of 31 (unlike a professional athlete who would be in peak form in their 20's). Is that age requirement a part of the assignment?

Re:young einstein? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34264154)

Bullshit most of their notable discoveries happen before 30...o are you referring to the dregs?

Put subject here (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34263888)

Astronauts? They're passengers. Explorers? There's nothing left to explore. Divers? OK, but most of the real deep stuff is done with ROVs. Pilots? In the first tier? But the airplane designer is second tier? You can train a monkey to fly a plane.

"to my naive son's way of thinking"

Space Nutters never outgrow the naive part, so why discourage it now? Sure, by all means, worship passengers that have basically been hopping around low Earth orbit for the past four decades. Might as well put Mars Colonist on your list.

Sidney Crosby exists here on Earth, does something everyone can identify with, is healthy and makes more money than an engineer. Oh god, please don't let your son become an engineer. You won't find a bigger bunch of underpaid, overrworked deluded masochists than engineers. Society does not value engineering, does not reward it, but engineers proudly boast of the their low pay, long hours, job precarity and low prestige.

holy missread batman (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34263902)

Holy crap I misreads that as "Scientology Heroes For Young Children?" and thought /. had gone batshit insane.

Yes, we do have an actual rocket man! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34263918)

I'd nominate Feynmann but he's been dead for a while. Rutan is still alive though. It might not get your kid a hero but you could look at the EAA meet in Oskosh for a family trip and meet people and stuff. There's bound to be a lot of aeroplane pilots, builders, and designers around. Also a lot of people that know lots about the weather, of course. We're a bit down on explorers and astronauts at the moment, for lack of opportunity. But wait, we do have one: Yves Rossy, the Swiss rocket man is probably lots cool to an eight year old.

set up for this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34263920)

You could try http://www.dayinscience.unsw.edu.au/ set by the University of New South Wales, specifically for this task.



Jeri Ellsworth (1, Insightful)

Okian Warrior (537106) | more than 3 years ago | (#34263932)

Jeri Ellsworth, AKA "Lady Ada" [wikipedia.org]

Read some of her articles [hackaday.com] on [hackaday.com] hackaday [hackaday.com].

Brilliant, clever, and resourceful. Definitely hero material.

Re:Jeri Ellsworth (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34264144)

Bunnie the PHD that hacked the original Xbox is a better role model.


physicist! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34263938)

Richard Feynman!

Tesla (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34263940)

Nikola Tesla was my little brother's hero. Scientist/Inventor extraordinaire.

Heroes: Dave Stone, John Carmack, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34263946)

Stupid password fail, having to enter this as a Coward.

I would propose the following persons as heroes as they have major goals, and are working/bending metal in pursuit of those goals

Dave Stone, Caver, Engineer, designing autonomous underwater exploration vehicles, and aiming to explore the oceans of Europa and the Moon's South Pole
http://stoneaerospace.com -- check out the blog from the Antarctic expeditions!

John Carmack, programmer, rocket engineer, designing a series of unmanned vehicles to lead up to manned suborbital flight.

Elon Musk, programmer, engineer, entrepreneur, managing the design of a light, middleweight and heavy launch vehicle, as well as Tesla

Game the system (1)

heptapod (243146) | more than 3 years ago | (#34263956)

Nikola Tesla is accomplished in his field. In fact he laid the foundation for the world we live in with radio, alternating current and fluorescent lights relegating Edison to the dustbin of history as a quaint artifact of science but a paragon of hucksterism.
Tesla accomplished a lot in his first thirty years i.e. left his home country, worked for Edison, developed the tesla coil and founded his own company. Plus he's a hell of a lot more interesting than some sports figure or musical artist.

Re:Game the system (1)

Subverted (1436551) | more than 3 years ago | (#34264126)

Yes! Teach the kid how the world really works... You do all the work, your name is destroyed, you die alone(at least this was by choice)...then *after* you are dead people realize you were a genius... Tesla is a hero of mine, but just depressing.

Re:Game the system (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 3 years ago | (#34264142)

He also was insane and committed massive fraud. I'd stick with Einstein before pushing nutters like Tesla.

Feynman (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34263968)

Safe cracker, Ladies' Man, Physicist.

Santos-Dumont (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34263986)

This guy was simply amazing, though being too sensitive may have brought his doom.

Also, if one plays with dangerous toys, one usually gets hurt sooner or later.

Two words (1, Insightful)

kaoshin (110328) | more than 3 years ago | (#34263992)

Gordon Freeman.

Re:Two words (1)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 3 years ago | (#34264084)

He's fictional.

The kid needs someone who's real. Fictional characters usually have some sort of "super human" characteristic that no real human could ever measure up to - it could be a super human mastery of many things that normal people would spend many years to get one of thing mastered, like James Bond being excellent at: skiing, marksmanship, fighting, flying, etc...

Re:Two words (1)

notionalTenacity (1526919) | more than 3 years ago | (#34264094)

Or even Tony Stark, in the recent Iron Man movies. I mean, he was pretty sciencey, in a made up way. If it has to be real people, Richard Feynman would make a damn good hero.

Popular Science... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34264016)

Popular Science regularly runs features on some of the brightest young minds having an impact in science and as inventors. Perhaps check out some back issues to get some ideas (seem to recall there was an article in the past few months).

Kudos to your kid for picking a true contributor to humanity rather than yet another sports star/model/rock star/etc... (not that there's anything wrong with that... ;)

Waste of time... (1)

Dogbertius (1333565) | more than 3 years ago | (#34264018)

You're attempting to fit a loosely defined term (heck, "hero" can be grossly misinterpreted with respect to discussions about war, rebellion, whistle-blowing, etc), to a petty, narrow-minded, and arbitrary set of conditions.

If you want fictional characters, take a pick from the marvel universe (ie: spiderman (chemist, biologist, engineer[chemical, bio, mechanical]), Mr. Fantastic (physicist), Iron Man (engineer), ), the list goes on. As for real-life heroes - the average kid isn't going to know squat on the subject. I considered Louis Pasteur as one back in grade 4, but I read a lot more than my, ahem, "peers".

Realistically, you might consider finding something that your kid's peer group would appreciate, and picking a scientist/engineer to whom that discovery/invention/idea is attributed. Chances are, it'll still end up being someone inconsequential or a pseudo-scientist who invented something popular. (Insert pun here).

If you find a way to have more than 3% of kids in elementary school (heck, even high school) to take a sincere interest in science and appreciate those who contribute to it, bravo!

Ellen MacArthur? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34264020)

A bit old for the criteria but set a record sailing around the world solo.

How about studying worms? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34264024)

And figuring out how people can live forever? Is that enough to make a hero?

I always meant to hold up Prof. Cynthia Kenyon as a hero for my kids. http://kenyonlab.ucsf.edu/

Rusty Venture (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34264026)

Rusty Venture. Am I wrong to think that?

Any of these guys (1)

actionbastard (1206160) | more than 3 years ago | (#34264038)

1. Neil Armstrong
2. Buzz Aldrin
3. Pete Conrad
4. Alan Bean
5. Alan Shepard
6. Edgar Mitchell
7. David Scott
8. James Irwin
9. John W. Young
10. Charles Duke
11. Eugene Cernan
12. Harrison Schmit

Burt Rutan (1)

Praseodymn (195411) | more than 3 years ago | (#34264046)

I know he's not young, but he sure does span many of those categories and is doing something quite heroic.

When I was young, my hero was Nikolai Tesla..

Lets start showing reruns (4, Informative)

btlyger (1941696) | more than 3 years ago | (#34264050)

Bill Nye the Science guy was the only educational show that was actually cool to watch. Lets get another season of Bill Nye and teach these kids how to make volcanoes.

Phil Plait (4, Informative)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 3 years ago | (#34264052)

AKA The Bad Astronomer. Read Death from the Skies with your kid - it's quite entertaining and has a persistent message that rational thought is superior to sensationalism.

what? (5, Insightful)

X_Bones (93097) | more than 3 years ago | (#34264060)

no love for the safe-crackin', bongo-playin', Challenger-investigatin' Richard Feynman?

Re:what? (1)

Warshadow (132109) | more than 3 years ago | (#34264148)

He's my hero, does that count? (I'm 31 though).

For a slightly younger person, perhaps Garrett Lisi? He's older than what #2 seems to require, but he's still quite young at 42 and is doing some interesting work. He's also a surf bum :D

3 suggestions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34264070)

Homer Hickam - October Sky
Jay Apt - Astronaut


Buckminster Fuller

Find a hero for me, daddy? (1, Insightful)

Nutria (679911) | more than 3 years ago | (#34264076)

Find your own hero, kid.

I just asked my 12yo son, and -- as I will ever be thankful -- it would never cross his mind to ask me to find him a hero. (I even asked him if he would have when he was 8. Nope.)

Re:Find a hero for me, daddy? (1)

Skidborg (1585365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34264132)

I thought it was a parent's job to hunt around for acceptable role models for their kids.

Tom Swift || Tintin (1)

johnrpenner (40054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34264098)

i remember reading hardy boys, narnia and tom swift novels when i was a kid - the tom swift stories always emphasized science, invention, and technology - great books. the tintin books are also science positive. :-D

all the best
john p

Youres or his? (3, Informative)

icegreentea (974342) | more than 3 years ago | (#34264116)

Is this list for him, or is really for you? =P

Joking aside, tell him about Joseph Kittenger and Felix Baumgartner. Kittenger was the pilot/sky diver involved in Project Excelsior. The highest/longest sky dive in history. 15 minutes of free fall. Felix Baumgartner is a dare-devil currently trying to break that record. He's being sponsered/supported by Red Bull (come on, thats instant cool), and Kittenger is consulting on the whole thing. If all goes to plan Baumgartner will break the sound barrier. With his body.

If he wants famous aircraft designers, two giants that come to mind are Ben Rich and Kelly Johnson, both of Lockheed Skunkworks fame. Unfortunately, they're both gone from this world... the days of airplanes being a single person's brain child is quickly faming (if not gone). If you wants some famous pilots, probably the single most important pilot would be John Boyd. One of the best fighter pilots ever, he also went ahead and pushed an entire generation of air force fighters into service, developed an entire engineering metric on comparing the performance of fighters, and then went ahead and revolutionized the way we fight wars (look up Maneuver warfare... all of the official doctrines of the armed services are based on his ideas).

EASY!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34264124)

Just explain to him that Sidney Crosby is a tool, likes to complain and cry A LOT, and is a propped up idol of a clueless commissioner trying in stupid ways to save a failing NHL.

Wait, was I just explaining Steven Jobs?

Google founders (1)

korsmana (1050252) | more than 3 years ago | (#34264128)

Larry Page and Sergey Brin, often dubbed the "Google Guys" . You have to give it to them; they changed how we search for anything, do work, research,etc. They came from no where in 1998 and now google is now a verb. You don't "Microsoft, Oracle, IBM," ... but everyone does google something.. AK

Wile E. Coyote (5, Insightful)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 3 years ago | (#34264130)

My science hero is Wile E. Coyote. He's the reason I became a scientist in the first place. As a kid, I had always been very impressed by how even the simplest scientific approach would always allow Wile E. to capture all those pesky Road Runners with ease.

I can honestly say that without him as a role model, I would never have become a physicist or discovered how to paint the dimensional portal which brought me to this world years ago.

Unfortunately, the rules of physics seem to be slightly different here for some reason, and I have been stranded ever since. Oh well...

Tag this 'pedobear' please (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34264156)

The Internet's most famous amateur pediatrician.

The guy behind copenhagen suborbitals (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34264182)

Copenhagen Suborbitals, group of danish guys who got bored after building their own submarines and decided to make a space capsule and launch themselves into space. some of them worked for Nasa and or JPL. I cant remember their names but they are rocket scientists doing it on the side.

Elon Musk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34264200)

Elon Musk, creator of Tesla and Paypal. He was also in the last Iron Man movie.

Srinivasa Ramanujan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34264204)

He achieved a lot starting from a young age and he has an interesting background story.

clever nick name (3, Funny)

arbitraryaardvark (845916) | more than 3 years ago | (#34264206)

i dont know an obvious answer. i'm kind of out of touch with 8 year olds, but they havent heard of carmack or musk and think that tesla's a band.
wil wheaton isn't famous enough, oh i dunno maybe he is do kids these days watch next generation reruns on spike?
he pops up on eureka and csi and that one with the nerds... now and then. i guess 8 year olds dont watch the guild. or know who randall munroe is.
hey how about richard branson? a lot of 8 year olds are virgins these days.

MacGyver (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34264210)

Although he is fictional, he is the initial reason I wanted to become an engineer, :-)

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