I’m in lab in my hipster pants and snap-back cap wearing gloves and goggles and a lab coat and I know that yes, this is what science looks like.
Science is not ivory tower men with white hair and extensive vocabularies running experiments beyond our comprehension. Science is done everyday by millions of people, all who are totally normal and love normal things like Justin Bieber and Led Zeppelin and pizza and watching New Girl and constellations and corny poems.
Science is not done by the people who know it all, but by the people who want to know more, regardless of what they already know.
I have passed labs blaring music from Wicked, death metal, Mika pop (oops that was me), country music, techno, MPR (a bit too common), and 80′s love ballads.
I’m thinking about this because a student asked me today about college, and they were surprised when I told them I have done research in a lab. They were surprised because a laboratory feels like a place that is not accessible to them, just after they sat there explaining how different hormones affect the development of reproductive organs of men and females. Something is wrong.
In my most wild dreams, students don’t begin doing research as sophomores/juniors, but as high schoolers, who come into the lab to learn laboratory science alongside biochemistry, general and organic chemistry, cell biology, genetics, and everything else. In these dreams, the high schoolers start to craft experiments, and begin to realize the creative power inherent in this task, equivalent to a creative essay or love poem. In these dreams, the high schoolers are the ones who ask the wildest questions, questions that are sometimes laughed away with a quick textbook reference, but sometimes questions that silence the rest of us and act as catalysts for our cognitive thoughts, as we begin to turn these thoughts into new territory.
Making science feel accessible to students is more than just using rote examples of scientists who are not white men. Why are we still failing to realize that in so many classrooms?