Last week we launched a new series called How To Raise Your Child To Be A Real-Life Fictional Hero. This week we selected FBI Agent Dana Scully from the classic SCI-FI drama The X-Files. The award-winning series ran nine seasons, birthed two movies and garnered a slew of fans. Every week, families huddled together to watch special agents Mulder and Scully tackling unsolved cases that usually revolved around some kind of paranormal occurrence.
Dana Scully completed her undergrad at the University of Maryland where she majored in Physics. She then obtained a M.D. from Stanford. The FBI went on to recruit her during her attendance at medical school. Scully’s academic achievements, professional accomplishments and believer in “real” science makes her an exemplary badass for both boys and girls to emulate.
Step 1 Gaining Knowledge
First, let’s examine Scully’s core interests. She loves science, specifically physics and forensic medicine. She took a few classes in German during college and her favorite novel as a child was Moby Dick.
Sidestepping the whole Captain Ahab/Fox Mulder comparison, reading classic literature to your child at a young age will give them a wonderful perspective on books as a whole. Many of us may rejected classic literature in middle or high school, but if we had been exposed to it in our preschool years we may have been more receptive.
Classic Starts: Moby Dick is an abridged version of the book, perfect for elementarians. The unabridged novel is not suitable for young readers and will certainly leave them with a distaste of anything labeled “classical.” If you’re searching for something more appropriate for younger kids, check out Classics to Read Aloud to Your Children. Reading out loud to children not only keeps them interested in the story, but allows them to ask questions if they get confused with plot intricacies.
Scully’s vast knowledge of physics, anatomy and chemistry propelled her through medical school. Stanford’s current academic requirements not only include a Bachelor’s degree, but you must have the following course and laboratory work completed : (1) year of biological science, (2) years of chemistry and (1) year of physics. Whew! That sounds like a lot of work. Let’s see how we can prepare your child for this grueling journey.
For chemistry, we’ve reviewed one of the best kits on the market. The CK01A Chemistry Kit is beyond a simple scientific lab experiment. You can pretty much substitute this kit for any chemistry class found in school. This is NOT a toy; always supervise children when they are mixing chemicals. Remember this article is about Dana Scully, not how to give your child blue fur like Beast from the X-men.
If the CK01A kit is too advanced, then you should take a look at the C100 Test Lab. A smaller cheaper kit that should satisfy curious minds. Real Science-4-Kids Chemistry pre-Level 1 is a great supplement to these kits and offers a fantastic introduction to chemistry that is targeted toward early elementarians.
Moving on to physics and the science of energy and matter. At first you might worry that your offspring is too young to grasp these concepts. Nonsense. If they are old enough to roll a toy car around or bounce a ball, then they can be taught the fundamentals. We found three books worth checking out on the subject: Physics, Pre-Level 1, Physics: Why Matter Matters! and What’s Physics All About. Just keep in mind you’ll want to guide your child through the books. Don’t just hand them over and say, “Here you go kiddo, go learn science!” Yeah, that’s not going to work out so well.
As we continue on to biology and anatomy, it is worth noting that some science books use religious philosophies and myths in place of “academic science.” If you are not into that, then you need to make sure you read reviews and do your research on any book before you purchase it. Sometimes this can be hidden beneath the surface of a normal looking, inconspicuous science book. Just make sure you choose what is appropriate for your family.
Before you run out and buy a copy of Grey’s Anatomy, you need to consider your child’s age. DK publishes an excellent anatomy book recommended for kids 6 and up called First Human Body Encyclopedia. From cells to complete systems, this is an invaluable resource that should be on your nerdling’s bookshelf. For older kids, check out DK’s complete version Human Body: An Illustrated Guide to Every Part of the Human Body and How It Works, which covers just about every part of the human body.
In the biology department there are numerous disciplines to choose from. We recommend easing the kids in. When it comes to science, the general rule is to not let your child become overloaded with too much information. Try one book at a time and read it together. Two books that we find appropriate for kindergartners through third grade are Pre-Level I Biology and First Animal Encyclopedia.
For kids slightly older, we recommend Real Science-4-Kids Biology Level I and Biology: Life as We Know It! For kids who are 9 and older and want to do more activities rather than just read we found 101 Easy Experiments That Really Work.
Finally, you’ll want to start teaching them German. One of the best programs out there is Muzzy, offered by the BBC. Fortunately, it is designed with all ages in mind (including toddlers), and you can start at any level.
Your child might not be ready to attend Stafford, but if you get them off on the right foot, they’ll be ahead of the rest of the class. Scully took all her science background and knowledge, and applied it to her career as a special agent for FBI. That leads us to the next step.
Step 2 Bringing Home The Pay
Having been recruited during her attendance at Stanford, Scully was never interested practicing medicine, instead she conducted her residency in forensics. What is forensics? DNA testing, conducting an autopsy, examining explosive materials to discover what compounds were used and, like in X-Files, proving to Mulder that most supernatural occurrences can be explained by science.
Joining the FBI is no easy feat. It’s not as simple as applying for the job. It’s a career that requires the utmost dedication. Here’s a closer look.
There are five classifications a special agent falls into: accounting, computer science, language, law and diversified.
After qualifying for one of these classifications, a candidate has to have the exact skills that the FBI needs at the given time. To learn more about those skills, head over to their official website. There’s still the physical tests to pass, a full FBI background check and two phases of additional testing.
There are five career paths in the Federal Bureau of Investigations to work in. A nonfiction Agent Scully would probably fall into the criminal investigations path. The first year salary of a special agent roughly exceeds $63,000.
The FBI offers a whole section for female recruits that answers frequently asked questions.
Obviously, your delicate nerdling isn’t ready to make life-altering decisions about the rest of their lives, but it is beneficial to explain to children about jobs and what the real world is like. And your child can still pretend to be a pseudo paranormal secret agent for the government. Whether they love aliens, ghosts or the leech man. (Shivers.)
Step 3 Mixing Fact and Fiction
Investigating paranormal criminal cases should not be confused with those crappy scripted reality shows than now plague cable channels that were initially intended for learning science. Not to mention you probably don’t want to turn your child into some sort of tin-foil-hat-wearing conspiracy nut. Is there any kind of middle ground? YES! The truth is out there. (Most likely.)
Physicist and modern-day philosopher Stephen Hawkings and his daughter have a series that breakdowns the universe for kids 8 and older. George’s Secret Key To The Universe and George’s Cosmic Treasure Hunt are written for kids and are a great place to start unraveling the mysteries of the cosmos. For fun, there’s always the classic fiction book My Teacher Is An Alien.