Do science and play have much in common? Neuroscientist Beau Lotto believes they do. He says, “If we ever want to do anything different, we have to step into uncertainty. …That’s what science offers us. It offers the possibility to step on uncertainty through the process of play, right?”
In this Ted Talk, he is joined by Amy O’Toole, then 12 years old, to talk about the Blackawton bees project, who published the first peer-reviewed article by schoolchildren, with 25 of her classmates.. He’s seconded by, who, along with, , about the. It starts: “Once upon a time … ”
Science, states Lotto, can change perceptions through the process of discovery, because “perception is grounded in our experience”. He explains, “All new perceptions begin in the same way. They begin with a question. The problem with questions is they create uncertainty. …And yet, the irony is, the only way we can ever do anything new is to step into that space.”
Play, he remarks, is evolution’s answer to the problem of uncertainty. “Play is not simply a process. Experts in play will tell you that actually it’s a way of being. Play is one of the only human endeavors where uncertainty is actually celebrated. Uncertainty is what makes play fun. Right? It’s adaptable to change. Right? It opens possibility, and it’s cooperative. It’s actually how we do our social bonding, and it’s intrinsically motivated. What that means is that we play to play. Play is its own reward.”
It’s a lot like a science experiment, points out Lotto. “Science is not defined by the method section of a paper. It’s actually a way of being, which is here, and this is true for anything that is creative. So if you add rules to play, you have a game. That’s actually what an experiment is.”
Watch the Ted Talk to learn more about the project and why science is as important as play.