I’m hesitant to do this. I really am. In fact, maybe I’ll just start with one little bit of it. Basically, despite not knowing what I want to do with my life, I have this idea. It’s this big, idealistic, passionate idea that I have no idea how to turn into a career.
I’ve started to turn it into something. I’m drafting a website. I’m working on some stuff. But it’s not going exactly the way I envisioned it, and I’m not sure that I love it yet, and I’m a little afraid to post it here, and have people I know actually see it. So instead, for now, here’s some of the philosophy behind it. Here’s what gets me fired up. Here’s something that I want to do something about.
(: – – – – :)
“Science education is not what it used to be. Well, that may not be true. I haven’t exactly been around long enough to assert that. Let’s go with: Science education is not what it should be.
Oh sure, there’s a big push to get little kids into science. There are museum camps for 5-year-olds, and magazines for kids all about their backyard wildlife, and books and classes and movies all designed to make your kindergartner want to grow up a marine biologist or something. And yes, once you hit high school there’s a lot of required science classes. There are a lot of universities with programs dedicated to luring high-schoolers into their STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) programs.
That’s not what this is about. This is about the public. Obviously there’s a lot of attempts at effective public education. Libraries, continuing education programs, educational TV, museums – they are all trying to take their specialized fields and turn them into something that the public wants to understand, support, fund, etc. This is a noble goal. But I’m not so sure that it’s being accomplished.
I think people learn in a very specified way. I mean, when I’m at school I have to cram and study and work hard to retain a whole class-worth of information long enough to pass the exam. But that is not the stuff that sticks with you. The stuff that sticks with you is that one fact about bats that your second grade teacher explained to you years ago that you still bring up for small talk. It’s the way your mom used that weird analogy to teach you about chemical bonds when you were 14 that still pops into your head during CHEM101. It’s that one poster in a science museum that you actually read, and you actually remember, andyou bring up when you come home and sit down at the dinner table.
I spent the summer as a mostly impartial unpaid summer intern in a science museum. That’s where this idea was born. Because I’ve spent years blogging about nothing and I finally have found my something.
I see a disconnect. I see scientists who don’t want to be bothered with ‘dumbing down’ their papers and presentations and research seminars. I see a public who don’t want to be bothered deciphering the over-reaching vocabularies of the scientists. I see researchers who don’t want to take the extra minute to move their work to the front window of a lab so others can see. I see visitors who automatically assume that science is this large unreachable realm of discovery that they only experience through the eventual trickle down of things like glowing goldfish and smart phones.
And none of that has to be true. You don’t have to be a PhD educated sophisticate to understand a lot of the cutting edge research going on in today’s world. You don’t have to be a caveman to communicate with the public.
So to boil it all down, that’s the point. That’s what’s behind this project. That’s why I’m shelling out my cash for a domain name. Because I care. Because I think I have the right skill set to mediate well. Because I saw a lack of communication and I believe I can fill the gap. And mostly because I believe it is important that the gap be filled.
I want dinner table small talk to be filled up with little amazing things someone learned on the internet that day. I want people to start taking 10 minutes to read and understand something that can spark an hour long discussion in their homes, their coffee houses, their bars, at their work place water coolers. I want scientists to realize that the public is a huge asset they aren’t using – in fact, it’s one that they’re not only neglecting but also avoiding. And I want that to stop.”