Searching for children’s STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) based gifts isn’t hard. A google search will turn up items like building blocks, Lego, electronic/snap circuit sets, robotic kits, electronic toys, K’NEX, telescope, test-tube kits, science in a box kits etc. etc.
While these choices are great, why not instead buy something different – like the younger versions of the toys – tools, I mean tools- that ecologists use?
Despite much searching I couldn’t find any useful lists on the web to refer you to. So I’ve made my own based on my childhood, presents we have been given, suggestions given to me and from the experience of having four children of my own.
This list is sorted from least to more expensive; these gifts will keep on giving and fuel the ecologist in any child.
I looked around. I swore I heard someone calling out. The silver wattle swayed. The mountain ash towered. No. I must have been dreaming. I was tired. I reckoned I still had enough daylight to do one more site but maybe the three I had done would do. I was stuffed. I shook my head and refocused.
“Helloooo? Moss Lady. Are you there?”
I wasn’t dreaming. The Melbourne Water crew thought it amusing that I would spend my days looking for moss. ‘Moss Lady’. It was novel and easier to say than my real name, so it stuck. I doubt they actually remembered my real name.
As a child, getting out in the Australian ‘bush’ was a regular event (image taken ~1982)
My father scanned all the family photos and it has been interesting to compare the places we visited back in the 1970’s and 1980’s with what they look like now. But what also struck me was the importance of our holidays, from my childhood to now.
Filing the photos made me realise that for me, my childhood camping trips with my family in the Australian bush are what I would class as my first and most significant childhood introduction to ecology. I also believe it influenced why I chose to become an ecologist.
What was your first significant encounter with the environment as a child? Do you believe it influenced your subsequent career choice?