How do we get students to investigate their own questions?


One of my greatest hopes as an educator is to facilitate students having genuine investigations about phenomenon in the world that are interesting and relevant to them. We often describe culturally relevant or sustaining pedagogy as lessons that have meaning to our students real lives outside of the walls of schools and classrooms. My current wrestling with culturally sustaining pedagogy is that there is no average student, so culturally relevant may be entirely different for my 80 or so students that I have each year. However, this doesn’t mean that I should just give up on culturally sustaining pedagogy in one lesson, across a unit, or across an entire curriculum.

In fact, if I don’t aim to be culturally sustaining, then I can contribute to being “culturally erasing” in my classroom.

If culturally sustaining pedagogy is the goal, then how do I help facilitate students diving into important questions that they have using scientific tools and reasoning?

Ladson-Billings (2012) poses that most students come to school with an interest in science and are excellent at developing questions about the world around them. She also suggests that there are ways that teachers can draw out this intrinsic nature of students or shut it down. I agree that teachers have the ability to elicit genuine questions or cause students to fear asking them. I have seen myself do this well in times where I cared more about what my students had to say. I have also seen myself do this poorly when I felt like I needed to “get to _______ important part of this lesson… because they need to know ___________”.  

So how can we learn what is culturally relevant to students and use that as a starting point for them to conduct their own science investigations?

A. Student chosen phenomena

I was recently finishing teaching a unit on energy, enzymes, cell respiration, and photosynthesis. I had one class left before I wanted to have students ready to do a performance task where their goal was to transfer what they had learned to a new, but similar phenomenon to what we had been investigating.

In one of my classes that day during the Do-Now, students were arguing about “Are all babies born white… and then just turn different colors later?” There was a rich discussion guided by them that included biological, sociological, and cultural reasons for why they were interested in this phenomenon and how why they thought that either babies are born white, or babies are born the color that they will be later in life.

I was so excited to hear my students talking about an incredibly interesting topic that blended science and race. In fact, they were touching on what we would be discussing in the next unit – reproduction and genetics. However, in my head I thought “I wish they could save this discussion for next class because we really need to get to ‘x’, ‘y’, and ‘z’ today.” Thankfully though I suppressed that feeling and continued the discussion with students, forming a mini “Gotta Have Checklist” that students could use to in the coming weeks to investigate their question.

I did nothing impressive here. In fact, I didn’t even elicit student ideas. I just took a breath and a second to hear what students were interested in talking about. Now, they have created their own anchoring phenomenon to explore.

B. Connectedness throughout a unit

I remember in high school each day felt brand new in the sense that I didn’t know what I was going to learn that day or why I was learning it beyond having to pass the class and pass an exam. I had fun and interesting science labs, but I never really knew how it connected to what we learned the previous day or how it would be used the next day.

The way each lesson was introduced sounded something like:

“Today we’re learning about cellular respiration”

“Today we’re learning about photosynthesis”

Instead, my goal is to introduce lessons like (with some of these voices being me and some of these voices being students”

“Yesterday we investigated how we make energy for themselves through cell respiration using oxygen and sugar…

… but how do we get oxygen and sugar in the first place?…

…Today we will be investigating how we get oxygen and sugar in order to help us explain [insert phenomenon here, e.g How can Allyson Felix prepare for her big 400 meter race at the Olympics this summer?”

If lessons aren’t connected, then students may not be connecting their learning to their original question and see how it is important to their investigation.

Culturally sustaining pedagogy is the goal so that students are in charge of what they are learning and can use and apply that to their lives. Hopefully, I can allow for students to choose what they want to investigate and then continue each day and each lesson connecting what they are doing that moment back to their original question and investigation.

Do plants really matter to people?

There are some buzz words that teachers or scientists use that elicit what I call the “blank stare” response. Behind that blank stare might be boredom, it may be confusion, it may be wonder, or it may have nothing to do with what you said and more about what else is going on inside of the brain of the student. I like that we name scientific words and scientific processes because it’s helpful to refer back to that same phenomenon.

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While words like chromosome or anticodon may thrill some, it certainly loses others. Photosynthesis for me brings up two very specific image.

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The first is a clip from Spongebob, where Spongebob and Sandy are bored and decide to “act like plants” by doing photosynthesis.

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The second image is from when I took a Plant Biology course in college and learned the gritty details of the molecules involved in plants doing photosynthesis. Okay, it’s really an image of me being scarred from having to memorize things like why Photosystem II happens before Photosystem I, or what Cytochrome b is doing, and when NADP+ becomes NADPH.

I believe there is value in studying the specific, seemingly onerous details of the processes that govern life around us. However, for my high school student, these details not only can be unnecessary, but can hinder any meaningful connection to learning that will spark interest, curiosity, or genuine questions.

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So, why should I care about photosynthesis anyway? Here’s two reasons why plants doing photosynthesis are more important to humans than we think.

  1. Well, do you like to eat?

If you said – “yeah, of course, but I don’t like vegetables”. You still need plants performing photosynthesis for the food that your food eats. Plants are almost more advanced than humans. They can go tanning (e.g take in light energy from the sun) and make sugars that people and animals can eat. Imagine you played outside all day during the summer and instead of coming home hungry, you were being replenished just by being outside (and the detailed chemical process that causes light energy to become tasty chemical energy).

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Still not convinced? That’s okay.

2. Do you breathe oxygen?

You’re running up and down the basketball court or taking a deep breath before blowing into a saxophone – you need to be able to breathe in enough oxygen to help your body not only survive, but also to help you outrun the point guard or play that crisp note.

While humans breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide, plants breathe in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen. Plants put out more oxygen into the air around us. So in other words, not only do plants feed us, but they also help to give us the right amount of oxygen in the air.

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Scientists everyday are still actively trying to understand important questions about the world around us. I gave you two “fun facts” about plants that are important to humans that you’ll hopefully connect with more each time you eat or breathe (okay maybe not that often)

I still have questions though. Maybe you could help?

A. Could animals survive without plants?

B. How much oxygen is needed in the atmosphere for humans to breathe? Does all of that seriously come from plants?

C. How do plants absorb light energy? What do they have solar panels built into them?

The Hate U Give

This week our school had an Expedition Day: “Enough is Enough”. Students came into school and went to Crew as normal, but today was different. Students began with a gallery walk of a) Riots & Ripples – events and people that have changed Rochester (like the Rochester Riots, Minister Franklin Florence and John and Connie Mitchell), b) kids who have created change across the world (like Malala), c) the Declaration of Human Rights, and d) Rochester-based nonprofits that they can become involved with.

The whole purpose to starting the day like this was for students to start to see how our history informs our present, how they are impacted by it, and how they can become agents of change in their lives and communities. There is nothing I love more than giving students power to create positive change that matters to them.

The students were most excited about the next part of the day: going to the movies! Students quickly figured out what movie we were seeing. The Hate U Give

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The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas was written because of the murder of Oscar Grant and murder of other young men and women of color in the United States in the last decade. I think it matters to say their names (inspired by the organization (Say Their Names). These are just some of the men and women of color who have been victims of police brutality, violence, and murder recently and just one of the many reasons why I believe that Black Lives Matter.

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I had read The Hate U Give before the movie, so I sort of knew what was coming, but was interested to see what the filmmakers did with the story. I won’t give away any spoilers in this blog post, but I do want to say that this movie was incredibly emotional to watch alongside my students. I can’t imagine what was running through their heads during the film. I cried knowing that so much that I take for granted everyday, these students need to be thinking about at all times especially when they’re in public. I cried knowing though too, that these students can help change our world.

In my last post, I discussed the politics of science and who is best equipped to communicate science in a tumultuous political climate. I’m still wondering where politics fits in to science, science education, and education. Again, on one hand — issues can become politicized (where we pick sides, we stand our ground, and we care more about a stance than the issues), versus issues being political (to me meaning that it directly impacts real people in real places). I don’t hope to preach my own worldview and narrative to my students, but I hope to approach issues with a critical lens, while also affirming the real struggles that my students and people around the world go through.

I’m hoping to propose a new way to think about “The Hate U Give”. First, it’s affirming that hate is real. Next, it’s thinking about our response. I’ve proposed: “The Love We Give”. The way that I hope we can overcome hate and injustice is by giving love through measurable policy and community changes that help show people their true value and worth.

Why isn’t the science enough?

 

Climate change. These two words may terrify you. They may motivate you to action. They may feel like another saying so disconnected from your life.

Climate change is politicized and it’s political.

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The left and right side of the political spectrum in the United States are in discord over the issue of climate change, including the science of climate change. My understanding of the Right’s view of climate change is a frustration with how legislation on climate change may impact the U.S economy, the jobs of some Americans in certain industries, and the taxes of Americans. In general, there are real life concerns about how action against climate change may impact economics. I also see the Right’s frustration with the way that climate science is presented by scientists and/or the Left.

If scientists are doing the science and they know their work well, why shouldn’t they be the ones to explain climate science?

I would argue that the communication of science does not require scientists. Scientists explain their science to other scientists, for other scientists, curated by other scientists. The process of the creation of scientific knowledge and the action that comes from it is a seemingly exclusive process.

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It’s clear that scientists have not been that convincing about climate science.

Why should anyone in the “real world” care about climate science?

So who should be telling this story? I pose two alternatives.

  1. Leaders in communities of faith

Pastors like this one are personally impacted by climate change. They feel a deep connection to the Earth and everyone and everything on it. They also may be living in and serving in communities that may be the most impacted by climate change: those living in poverty, living in polluted cities, drinking from contaminated water sources, or beginning to lose their livelihood (like farming) from the impacts of climate change.

2. Rural farmers in the U.S and around the world.

Not all farmers are conservatives, and not all conservatives are farmers. However, a huge majority of the United States that happens to own small and large-scale farms lean to the Right side of the political spectrum. Who better to lead the conversation about climate change, the instability of climate, and the changes in climate than farmers themselves? Climate change is changing the way that they make a living and do their own science each and everyday.

I notice that it may look like my hope is still just to convince a bunch of people that climate change is real. But really my hope is much greater than that. My hope is that real people who are just trying to live their lives will also be able to see the science in their everyday lives, and be able to lead the conversations about the science that impacts them.

Food is NOT trash

Everyday we eat trash, breathe trash, make trash, and throw away trash. We can’t escape trash.

This fall our Science STARS have been embarking on a journey of science, filmmaking, and activism around the 3 R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. We’ve explored all of the ways that we intersect with trash and “recycling” throughout our daily lives – where it goes, what it does to our environment, and what we can do to rewrite, or rethink the story of trash.

But we’ve mainly focused on trash and “recycling” like:

  • Plastic bottles
  • Metal cans
  • Glass bottles
  • Plastic bags
  • Cardboard
  • Styrofoam

We’ve had this focus because we’re thinking about how we can reduce, reuse, and recycle these materials to help create a better world.

But, we’ve been missing a HUGE part of trash:

FOOD!

Statistics…

1 in 7 people in the world are hungry while 1/3 of food is wasted (Source: WFP)

In 3 zip codes in the city of Rochester, 40% of residents are food-insecure, meaning they lack access to enough affordable and healthy food (Source: Foodlink)

Statistics in context
How can a country with staggering access to fast food, luxury food, genetically modified food, and local and organic food have people hungry, overweight, and be throwing away so much food?
We could ask these questions in the context of our 3R model: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. At first, I thought the 3R’s were only for materials like plastic, metal, or glass.
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1. Why don’t we REDUCE the amount of food:
  • Consumers demand less food
  • Producers produce less food
  • Consumers buy less food
  • Consumers use the food that they buy

This reduces not only the amount of food we throw away, but the energy and resources used to produce food, care for animals that we eventually eat, or ship and transport food across continents.

2. Why don’t we REUSE food:

  • If we have food that is produced but is past the expiration date to be sold in stores, is the food still usable, healthful, and edible for those without food.

This helps cut down on our problem of wasting 1/3 of food while helping feed one more person in the 1 of 7 that are hungry today.

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Photo: Democrat and Chronicle

3. Why don’t we RECYCLE food:

  • Composting helps return nutrients and energy from food back into the soil to make it more viable and productive for future uses.

Think about how a plastic bottle can be recycled and return as part of a park bench. How might the skin of an onion return as a tomato plant the next year?

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Photo: Permaculture

But is that all?

If we reduce, reuse, and recycle our food – will this help solve issues like climate change, obesity, poverty, hunger, and health problems? I think the 3R’s help us see ways to approach how we can lower the impact of trash and waste on these issues. But, I think we more importantly need to RETHINK the story of trash and waste if we are going to make an even greater impact on our communities.

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My hope is that our Science STARS see themselves as able to rethink and rewrite the story of trash and waste in their life.

 

Science Bars

I’m not talking about granola bars or sharing science at the bar (like we did this summer with Thinkers and Drinkers). I’m talking about bars… 

I barely knew what “bars” were until a few weeks ago a student of mine was rapping in class and a friend turned to her and said “you got bars”. I had them break it down for me and explain what is meant by bars. Is it a rap? Is it any song? Does it have to do with the content of the lyrics? I learned that “spitting bars” can refer to all of the above, but are usually like the verse of a song or the measure of a section of a rap.

I wondered if bars were ever used in school. So I asked them if they ever did in a class, for homework, or in school besides just with friends. I was met with a “haaaaaaa, noooo” as if spitting bars were held for a very distinct time and space… and that space wasn’t school.

What if we spit bars in science?

Now admittedly, I’ve wondered where hip hop, rap, and creative writing intersects with science. I had not seen any examples of this in my 18+ years of education or in my life. It’s not a part of my cultural experience. So it has been hard to imagine what this would look like.

While this video is funny, I imagine it actually looks strikingly similar to classrooms throughout our history all the way into the start of our 2018-2019 school year.

“Teacher: Franklin is going to grace us with an extra credit presentation

Franklin: It’s a rap on global warming.

Teacher: Woah woah woah woah, no rap. That’s not an academic presentation.

Franklin: No, no you didn’t say that. You said a creative presentation.

Teacher: I don’t care, sit back down we’re going to start the test.”

Now Franklin spit bars and he rattled off what looks and sounds like a gapless explanation of global warming. I would love if a student turned a creative assignment into something like a poem, rap, or a song. If we learn by doing, then can creating and doing a rap like Franklin help students learn science? Can it be a part of doing science? My concern is that the rap itself can just become another assignment about regurgitating facts versus learning about science, doing science, and learning scientific practices.

Another take on hip hop and science comes from one of my favorite writers and presenters in education, Dr. Chris Emdin. He did(/does?) an after school science/hip hop club in some ways like our after school science/activism/filmmaking club Science STARS.

“Even though we’re pretty good at Hip Hop, we can get better at it. Plus we can get better at Science” says one student.

The after school program starts with students writing bars after a short presentation about a scientific word, photosynthesis. It’s not evident how long was spent on each activity, but by the end of the video, students have written multiple sentences about photosynthesis and rap it to their classmates.

Is this practice culturally sustaining?

Is mixing hip hop and science itself culturally sustaining? I would suggest that hip hop itself is culturally sustaining, but for some students there still may need to be a deeper connection with the content. Otherwise, why else should I care about photosynthesis?

Along with Emdin, I hope that my science classroom will reflect the lives of students and that we can both learn and do science together. I wonder how science bars may fit in.

What is science? Well, let’s find out…

How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop? Well, let’s find out…

I remember watching this commercial on Nickelodeon when I was in elementary school.

“BOY: Mr. Owl, how many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?

MR OWL: Let’s find out… One.. Two…Three

*CRUNCH NOISE*

MR OWL: Three

BOY: If there’s anything I can’t stand, it’s a smart owl.

ANNOUNCER: How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop? The world may never know.”

This commercial did its job. I wanted to jump right off of my couch and ask my parents to buy me a Tootsie Pop. Even as Rugrats came back on screen and I followed Tommy, Chuckie, Phil & Lils quest to return the baby lizard to Reptar, the question about how many licks it takes to get to the center of the tootsie pop irked me.

Why didn’t I just sit contently watching TV? Well, like the kid in the commercial and like most scientists… I wasn’t satisfied with Mr. Owl’s answer. I even asked one of my parents and they said, “Probably like a few hundred or a thousand but it’d take a long time and your tongue would hurt. I wouldn’t recommend it.”

I remember my experimental procedure like it was yesterday.

  1. “Mom, can I get this?” as I point at the orange flavored tootsie pop at the grocery store.
  2. Ripping off the plastic wrapper while exiting the store.
  3. Counting in my head each and every lick of the tootsie pop from store exit… to getting in the car… to buckling my seat belt… to stepping out of the car… to opening the door.
  4. But then I was interrupted. Woops, I was supposed to help mom carry in groceries.
  5. Quickly write down what number I was up to on a post it note. 383.
  6. Put half licked tootsie pop on same post it note.
  7. Bring in groceries as fast as humanly possible.
  8. Rush back to my tootsie pop!!!
  9. Ew…it’s sticking to the post-it note.
  10. That’s okay, let’s continue. 384…
  11. Phew this is taking a while.
  12. Mom was right, my tongue does hurt.
  13. …CHOCOLATE? DID I JUST TASTE CHOCOLATE?
  14. 822.
  15. 822 licks is the number of licks it takes to get to the center of a tootsie pop. SUCCESS!
  16. Wait, what if each tootsie pop is different?

I’ve been wondering a lot lately about what qualifies as science.

I used to ask: Does science only happen in a lab? Does science only happen by people with PhD’s?

But I’m now wondering: Where does science happen in my life, everyday? Where does science happen in the lives of my students?

What is science?

My tootsie pop story is a science story of mine. Is science me knowing the answer? Eh. Is science the question that was asked? It’s a start. Is science understanding how we got to the answer? It could help. Is science testing the question? That’s part of it. Is science the process of testing something that you don’t know with the tools at your disposal and using the results to ask new questions or build on your current understanding? I hope so, because that’s what science is to me.

What is science to you? Comment below!

 

PS. It turns out that OTHER SCIENTISTS ASKED THE SAME QUESTION AS ME! One of the most important things that we can do with our science is share it with others and compare what we found to what others found. Read below the video after you watch it to see how we compare!

“See Gurl Try” got 702. That’s pretty close to 822. But why were our numbers so different? One YouTube commenter said they got 2,617, That is almost 4 TIMES as many licks.

That got me thinking…

What qualifies as one complete lick?

Is each tootsie roll situated a little differently inside of each tootsie pop?

Was the owl right all along… it depends on how you eat it?

Where STARS is situated…

Stay tuned for a link to the GRS blog about our first week of class.

Our class of 9 master’s and 5 doctoral students jumped into a fairly jargon heavy academic article on the idea that learning is situated. What does it mean to be situated?

I’ve said something like “I’m getting situated” when moving to a new place, starting a new school, or beginning a new job. Getting situated is about a place, but it’s also about contextculture, and the activities that come with that new place. So I guess you can say I’m getting situated with my new graduate program and the start of a new school year.

I am also a part of a team, the TRASH TALKERS alongside Ms. Coonce and Mr. W for an after school club called Science STARS. Our team will be investigating authentic and relevant science led by students to create change in their world. It’s important for us to consider where STARS is situated and imagine how it can be better situated for authentic learning to take place.

STARS is situated at School 58, World of Inquiry, in the context of being a 7th or 8th grader in the city of Rochester, with the purpose of creating change through science and filmmaking. How does this support or hinder authentic student experiences and authentic learning?

Questions to consider:

How else is STARS situated?

What ways can we better understand where students are situated to improve their experience in STARS?

 

 

The Sorting Hat

These past few weeks we have been preparing tirelessly to make our STEM camp for students in Sodus nothing short of engaging, powerful, and very much Sodus. Behind the scenes and behind the screens you could find Robin, Lisa, and I in long text threads and shared Google Drives into the night considering how to best plan our lessons for the better of students – and meeting with Sodus teachers and absorbing their insights, expertise and passion for their students.

LOYAL TO SOIL DOES SCIENCE

Loyal to Soil has brought our original investigation full circle to now include our most essential piece, Sodus students! We invited students to not only join our group, but also to add value by bringing their own life experiences and interests, their own expertise on Sodus, and to make this investigation something that matters to them. TEAM is one of the few main focuses of our camp:

Teens

Engaging

in Activism

that Matters

We wouldn’t be a team or able to accomplish TEAM without teens in our group however, so on Day 1 of our camp we (along with Stink Squad and Ex-Stream Team) showed students what we did based on some of their previous wonderings about Sodus. In case you aren’t in the loop, we learned that students care about the food that they eat at home and in school – if it’s healthy and what makes it tasty or not. We told our science story (Robin, Lisa, and I – and all the Sodus people who influenced and impacted our investigation) but also to invite new investigators using PowToon to create a blockumentary.

OUR SCIENCE INVESTIGATION

SHAMELESSLY SELLING OUR SCIENCE

We also let students do their own investigating, noticing, and wondering about soil, plants, and the taste of berries. They rotated at stations within Loyal to Soil to begin to consider where food comes from, how it grows, and what might change the way it tastes.

 

Lisa asking students what they notice and wonder about two plants: one grown with water, one grown without water.

 

I conducted a taste test where students tried berries from Burnap’s Farms and berries from the grocery store shipped from out of state. They told us what tastes better (more to come on the results later!)

 

Robin had students feel and look at different types of soil, and wonder about how soil might impact the way that plants grow and what the fruit that comes from some of those plants might look or taste like.

 

PATIENTLY WAITING FLYING

After students rotated through our group we anxiously awaited as students were being placed into Loyal to Soil (us), Stink Squad, and Ex-Stream team. The mystery of the sorting process felt more like being Sorted into a Hogwarts House via the magic (i.e UofR faculty and Sodus teachers)

 

…LOYAL TO SOIL!

Together 20 students were sorted into Loyal to Soil. Just like Harry Potter in many ways chose Gryffindor, we imagine they chose Loyal to Soil as well. During our brief time with these students on Day 1 we invited them to do their own science investigation at Burnap’s Farm on Day 2 of camp. We designed an invitation to Burnap’s Farm via the website Canva.

 

 

REWIND TO FLYING

Rewind through the magical sorting process and students joining our team. While they were being sorted, we introduced them to aerial photography. Think about how you might get a camera up high enough in the air to take a picture from above of… a strawberry field… a river… a habitat of bugs…

We used balloons, a camera and protection for the camera, and some string for students to practice aerial photography and consider how they might build it differently or use it to investigate what their STEM team (Loyal to Soil, Stink Squad, Ex-Stream team) was investigating. The students practiced by setting up the rigs, taking turns flying the balloons to try to reach an optimal and steady height, and even organized below into a question mark, circle… and free for all formation. On the fly (ha!) we showed them what these photos from the sky looked like.

 

 

 

I hope you look forward to my next post about what we did at Burnap’s Farm and what the students found!

In the mean time, think about some things our investigators (students) are considering:

  • What is different about the soil that might be able to tell us why berries from strawberry field taste better from berries from a different strawberry field?
  • What else can we learn about Burnap’s Farm and the areas we investigated using aerial photography to give us a new lens (ha pt. 2!) and perspective about our question?

#WeAreDoingScience

 

 

 

 

 

If a scientist makes a discovery and…

…nobody hears about it, does it matter?

This past week we teamed up with Thinkers and Drinkers at the University of Rochester to practice our communication with public audiences about science and science education. We met at Rohrbach’s Beer Hall for some great beer and conversation.

Pictured above is Lisa, Sam, and I!

One of the goals of Thinkers and Drinkers is to take scientists out of their bubble in academia and bring them and their work “into the real world”. But it’s also to make the public more aware of science that is happening all around them and how science done by normal people that shop at the same grocery store as you or go to the same bar as you. I love this idea and have found it incredibly helpful to practice my own science communication. But it also is amazing to learn from people who are deeply connected with science around them (and may know it or not) even if they aren’t “scientists”. But why is science communication even important?

Data from the Pew Research Center suggests that the general public doesn’t always trust scientists or even trust science, especially on issues that are political because they matter deeply to people and their communities but are politicized by political parties – such as climate change or genetically modified food! Some of you may be reading this and think… well science is rooted in evidence and “facts” so how could someone not trust it? Others of you might be thinking about a ‘pop-sci’ article you saw with a title like “Scientists prove that ice cream cures cancer” and be skeptical about science. Well, to both of those thoughts – yes! There is a miscommunication between scientists and science, and the way it is communicated and implemented.

So what does this mean for scientists and science education as a whole?

Should scientists take more steps outside of their lab and make it a point to learn how to better communicate their science? Yesterday, Dr. Heather Natola and Jessica Hogestyn from the University of Rochester discussed on Connections with Evan Dawson their thoughts on the importance of science communication.

Heather brought up an interesting point — if a scientist is working in the lab, makes progress, or makes a discovery but nobody hears about it or uses it, does it matter? The answer isn’t an easy yes or no, but it once again points to the greater issue…

  1. What is the purpose of science? A loaded question, I know. Is it just important to make discoveries that make an “impact” or is it important to do theoretical work that plays on our creativity and curiosity?
  2. Can science be “wrong” and what does it mean when a scientists make a discovery that is in opposition to a currently held view or practice? I’d suggest that this is science, as new evidence comes to light we can refine our models, tools, or understandings of the world.
  3. How do we build better relationships and communicate better across academia, industry, K-12 education, policy makers, and more importantly – all of us who live in the world and make decisions about our health, our environment, and our communities?

I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I believe questions like these and groups like Thinkers and Drinkers will help us understand better ways to communicate science no matter where or how you intersect with science each and every day!