Monday, January 03, 2005

Three Cheers for Tilly (and for Science class)

Amid all the horror stories from last week's Indian Ocean tsunamis, which to date have killed an estimated 150,000 people, comes this report of a precocious ten year old British girl on holiday with her parents in Thailand.

Tilly Smith, from Oxshott, Surrey, was holidaying with her parents and seven-year-old sister on Maikhao beach in Phuket, Thailand, when the tide rushed out.

As the other tourists watched in amazement, the water began to bubble and the boats on the horizon started to violently bob up and down.

Tilly, who had studied tsunamis in a geography class two weeks earlier, quickly realised they were in danger.

She told her mother they had to get off the beach immediately and warned that it could be a tsunami.

According to the Telegraph, Tilly's parents quickly warned the hotel staff and the beach was cleared before the waves hit, saving the lives of dozens. Tilly continued to display the good sense she showed on that beach when speaking to the press, calmly explaining how she had known to be worried.

In an interview with the Sun, Tilly gave the credit to her geography teacher, Andrew Kearney, at Oxshott's Danes Hill Prep School.

She said "Last term Mr Kearney taught us about earthquakes and how they can cause tsunamis.

"I was on the beach and the water started to go funny. There were bubbles and the tide went out all of a sudden.

"I recognised what was happening and had a feeling there was going to be a tsunami. I told mummy."

The value of understanding science has rarely been better displayed. It can literally save your life. If you know how the world works, you'll be better able to respond wisely when confronted with natural phenomena. This applies not only for individuals, but for societies as well. Those societies that encourage science and critical thinking will fare better than those that don't. Too bad so many US school districts are trying to replace science with pseudo-religious nonsense, or mandating politically-correct, mulitculturalist curricula instead of demanding that students take rigorous courses on mathmatics, science and reading comprehension.


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