Science & Art Combine to Bring My Son Closer to the Cosmos

Answering questions about native Americans #AutryMuseum
For those who may not know, I have a bit of a science geek son. He’s eight-years old and could (and sometimes does) spend Saturdays in his pj’s happily watching Professor Stephen Hawking documentaries and Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman. Mythbusters, UFO Hunters even. But mostly, if he had to choose, he’d find some documentary that just showed planets and solar systems and the vastness of outer space. Black holes make him jump up and down in front of the tv or computer, he can rattle off theories about dark matter and how a star is born, and he will talk your ear off about the Big Bang and his own ideas about how Earth came to be.

But with this geekdom, comes the soul of an artist. He cries on airplane rides as he stares out the window because it’s all “just so beautiful Mom.” And he lounges with his arms behind his head, stares up at the sky, and makes me promises.

Big promises.

When he was four Jack informed me he was going to retrieve the Mars Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, from the red planet and bring them back to me. He firmly believes they must come “home.” He remembers that promise, and talks about it frequently as though it’s just fact. He will someday find a way to bring those rovers back to Earth.

I believe he will do this. I believe he has the mind and will to accomplish this simply because in his heart, their home is here near us. Not just on Earth, but at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.

I have this amazing mix of a sensitive, scientist man-child. Who expresses himself through writing and art, yet gets very upset at the idea we have yet to get a person to Mars because human eyes must gaze upon the beauty of this vast red and dusty place. He actually gets so upset about this, and so excited at the possibly and joy of being able to one day see outer space he gets tears in his eyes. He wants to explore the heavens above so badly but is trapped in that “but I’m only a kid” world and he wants to gaze upon the amazingness that is space so badly he has trouble telling me why it’s so important…other than “but Mom, can’t you see how beautiful it is?”

Enter a simple art assignment at school, where he got to combine his two loves and create (along with his 3rd grade class) a silhouette of himself and his own depiction of a planet he imagines. Innocently I tweeted, as many proud parents do, his very first gallery debut. His art, hanging on the wall of our local comic book shop Brave New World Comics, and the lovely wine and cheese (and cookie and milk) event for the school.

My son's gallery debut!

My son’s piece sold to the highest bidder (his biggest fans Mom and Dad) and we enjoyed the evening.

Something extraordinary then took shape…I got word from New York City that one of my favorite twitter followers had seen that tweet, that innocent and proud parental moment, and she just happens to work at the Science House Foundation.

The Foundation’s mission “…provides funding to organizations that help to further science and mathematics education worldwide, and creates programs that provide schools with resources and educational experiences to spark the imagination.”

Then came a letter, with a check, officially acquiring my son’s artwork as their first piece to hang in the Science Foundation’s new space in Manhattan as they start a collection of “science art.”

Science & Art collide

Jack was glowing. His dreams were becoming a reality. He could combine his love of art and science and could not only show the world beauty, but discuss the vast universe. My amazing child could truly be himself: an artist, writer, and critical thinker with a love of science and all things in the mysterious cosmos.

Rita J. King of Science House tells me that is exactly their mission, to help kids realize they create the future. Well Rita, James, and the rest of the Science House Team- not only are you helping kids realize, but you are fueling their passion. Tonight Jack said, “Mom, I can make money…like a job…with science and art. This is like some sort of dream, isn’t it?”

No. No my dear it’s not a dream. It is real. It is fact- those solid, scientific tidbits of info you love so much. And it is beautiful.

In short, it’s you.

Thank you to the wonderful SCVi staff for inspiring my son to be himself, and thank you Science House Foundation for helping an eight-year old realize his future and dreams can combine science and art – and they are possible.


  1. habanerogal says:

    Wow Erin this is amazing and so inspiring for Jack to get this kind of feedback at such a young impressionable age. Looking forward to lots more exciting creative projects from him.

  2. Thank you so much. This really seemed to drive the idea home for him that he can do anything, and that science and art do MIX! It also drove home for me what a wonderful community we have in twitter.

  3. Your son sounds like a complete and total nerd and that’s not bad at all. One day he’s going to rule the earth while the rest of us just breathe his air.

  4. You can say … I knew his mom! I said the kid was the next Steve Jobs on her blog even… go look!

    To counter that i should also point out he spent the weekend fake shooting things with his new rifle that he bought at Disneyland after spending way too much time a the shooting gallery in Frontierland.

  5. Well rounded and deadly nerd. No one’s gonna shove him in a locker.

  6. This makes me and everyone at Science House absolutely thrilled!

  7. That is so crazy awesome I can hardly stand it. Congrats to Jack, and I am headed over to check out Science House myself!

  8. love this congrats to him and you and your husband as well. My son is so similar too bad we live on different coasts! Keep up the curiosity!

  9. Oh Johanna to heck with different coasts- with tech we can do anything! Emails, skype, they can have virtual playdates if we want! xoxoxox

  10. Oh holy cats, Erin, I’m all teary. Love it.

  11. And just like that, I start this hump day overjoyed and misty-eyed.

    Jack is inspiring. As I read your delivery of his passions for art & science, it thrusts me back into a world I once knew at his age. A world filled with oceanography and, more specifically, my fascination with whales. I lived and breathed that stuff. Journeying, not once, but twice to San Diego on field trips to whale watch and study all things that are the ocean. I don’t quite recall what pulled me from that state of knowing every tidbit there was about beluga, blue, orca, or finback whales, but I miss it.

    Lucky for Jack (and not to suggest that my parents weren’t), he has parents that will nurture and encourage such a passion to live on and prosper. That’s one amazingly special, smart, and sensitive young man you’re rearing over there. Don’t change a lick of it.

  12. Your son and mine would get along so well. My kid just spent all morning watching Mythbusters, and he watches science documentaries for fun all the time. Once he saw a documentary about the Hubble Space telescope, and when the narrator mentioned at the end that the cancellation of the Space Shuttle program meant that eventually the Hubble would be allowed to just burn up in the atmosphere, the kid actually CRIED. Hard.

    Then he stopped crying and told me very matter-of-factly that he was going to save the Hubble someday. I do believe he just may.

  13. Jennifer & Cody says:

    Well, it took me long enough to have time to sit and read this but how awesome!! So exciting for Jack and for all of you! He may very well grow up to reach Mars one day!

  14. You know, I’ve been reading your blog for awhile now. Usually in one and two month chunks as I try to restrict my online time. But the teacher and the mother in me seriously got goosebumps on my body and mist in my eyes as I read that letter. How wonderful of them to support your son and his dreams in this way. I loved this post. Wishing you and yours all the best in the new year!

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