One night this week, I was watching M*A*S*H and decided I was going to see what Alan Alda, the star of the show, was up to after all these years. I love the show – always have and always will. In my opinion, only The West Wing did more to capture my heart and Alan Alda was on that show, too! As I was looking through the Google search results, I came across something very interesting: The Flame Challenge. Naturally, I was curious.
NPR’s Ira Flatow interviewed Alan Alda about The Flame Challenge in March, 2012. Here’s the executive summary they posted:
At age 11, actor Alan Alda asked his teacher what a flame was. He received a confusing answer: “oxidation.” In the spirit of better communicating science, he’s created the “Flame Challenge,” a contest in which scientists do their best to define a flame. Eleven-year-olds from around the world will judge the entries.
The winner was announced in June and below is the winning submission from Ben Ames, a quantum physicist and doctoral student. Congratulations, Ben!
This post is not a re-hash of the other posts. Rather, it is a celebration of educational progress and innovation. What Mr. Ames did was take the technological resources at his disposal, his creative nature, and his desire to answer a question clearly in terms that children can understand and put them altogether to create an answer to a question that has haunted Alda since he was 11.
What I love most about this is that Ames focused his answer on the way in which he answered it. He used an approach that resonates with 11-year-olds – video, song, animation, and HUMOR.
Please take 7:30 and watch the video embedded in this post with a kid you know. I think they’ll love it!