This Saturday, April 22nd, is the March for Science. (It’s also Earth Day.) The goal of the March for Science is to celebrate science and affirm its importance in our society as a way of increasing our knowledge of the world around us and enabling us to solve challenging problems.
Please consider participating in one of the 500 marches that will take place across the United States.
We, the peaceful, passionate, and diverse members of the March for Science, pledge to work together to share and highlight the contributions of science, to work to make the practice of science more inclusive, accessible, and welcoming so it can serve all of our communities, and to ensure that scientific evidence plays a pivotal role in setting policy in the future.
At Make:, we have always understood science to be part of the Maker Mindset and we have known that many scientists, both amateur and professional, make up an important part of the maker community. What we all share in common is curiosity and the desire to learn more and know more. That makes us think and act as scientists do. In education, we support students not just learning “about science” but learning to practice science — to ask questions, experiment, and seek answers. The practice becomes especially powerful when you are motivated by what truly interests you.
To help celebrate science during the March for Science, we’re presenting a series of video series that we did in 2009 called “Fascination with Science.” These short video interviews with 12 scientists took place during an event called SciFoo at the Google Campus in Mountain View, CA. We wanted to know what it was that caused each person to become a scientist. In short, what was it that fascinated them, that captured their interest and caused them to devote time and energy to the practice of science.
Below are the 12 videos, which we’ve compiled into a playlist:
Adam Summers is an Associate Professor at the University of Washington, and the Associate Director of UW’s Friday Harbor Laboratories. He’s a comparative biomechanist, but didn’t have a single biology course on his transcript when he applied to grad school. Instead, he was inspired to pursue the career after he met a biologist while working as a scuba diving instructor in Australia.
Andrew Hicks works in the Mathematics Department at Drexel University. Andrew has invented some incredible mirrors, such as a non-reversing mirror, and a driver’s rearview mirror that eliminates blind spots.
Bruce Hood is a developmental psychologist at the University of Bristol, interested in the phenomenon of the paranormal. He studies the supernatural. “Human adults have all sorts of quirks of thinking,” he says, but he theorizes that beliefs in the supernatural actually originate with children’s mode of thinking.
Fiorenzo Omenetto is a Professor at Tufts University in Boston. His dad was a professor who worked with lasers, so he grew up around lights and colors and strange experiments. “They looked like very nice toys that I could not play with,” he says. He is interested in optics, but moved to a biomedical department. The head of that department, David Kaplan, was studying silk as a material for engineering tissue. Fio partnered with him to develop optical tissues, like corneal implants.
Heather is from Sterling, Scotland, and is currently based in Oxford. She studied Physics, then Biochem, and started teaching when she took over a school’s chess club. Regardless of the subject, Heather says her passion lies with helping people achieve the “a-ha!” sensation of understanding a new concept.
John Mighton is the founder of the charity Jump Math and a Fellow at the Fields Institute. John is on a mission to understand how kids learn, and to develop a curriculum that rejects the “bell curve model” and instead minimizes the hierarchies of a class, and “scaffold” a lesson in a way that serves every student.
Larry Weiss says “you don’t change the world by criticizing what other people are doing. You change the world by giving people another alternative.” He’s the CTO for CleanWell, a natural cleaning products company. Previously, he had worked as an infection control consultant, minimizing the sickness that would spread seasonally through a military training facility. He’s a big proponent of natural soap over synthetic and harmful chemicals.
Louise’s grandparents, Louis and Mary Leakey, were the paleontologist and archeologist who found the evidence in Olduvai that established it as the evolutionary origin of humankind. Louise is now a Research Professor at Stony Brook University studying Human Evolution and Paleoecology, and she searches northern Africa with the help of local communities to find fossils and answer questions about who we are and where we came from. Louise and her team use unmanned aircraft to search for specimens, and 3D scanning and printing to recreate the bone fragments they find. Through these new technologies, she says, “you could be an armchair paleontologist.”
Lynn works at the NASA Ames Research Center (she’s also a faculty member at Stanford and Brown), and her questions about microbes and our Earth’s atmosphere are also questions about whether life exists elsewhere in the universe. Her love affair with science started in the 3rd grade when she peered through a microscope and saw protozoa and amoebae. “I just fell in love,” she says.
A self-described “DNA hack,” Mac predicts that in the future, open source science will be driven by amateurs. (We’d argue that in the five years since this video was published, this has already begun.) Mac fell in love with synthetic biology as an undergrad, and founded the DIYBio website.
Rebecca Moore works for Google, and was part of a project to help the Surui tribe of the Amazonian rainforest back in 2007, using Google Earth and aerial map views to demonstrate the extent of the rainforest devastation right up to the border of the tribe’s territory. Rebecca taught the tribe to use computers so that they could monitor Google Earth for signs of illegal logging, document it, and report it to authorities.
The Co-founder of Wolfram Research and Founder of Element Collection, Theodore studied chemistry until he realized in grad school that he was actually really good at computer programming. But he stills loves chemistry as a hobby — from blowing things up to what he calls the real-world implementation of Kurt Vonnegut’s ice-9.
Inspired to try your hand at some DIY science experiments? Check out Raymond Barrett and Windell Oskay’s Build-it-Yourself Science Laboratory, and read Make: Vol 56, all about biohacking.
DIY Science Lab Book
Feature image courtesy of EarthDay.org