Week 3 — I’m a Scientist

I’m a scientist.  That’s what I tell people.  Depending on the audience, I tell them that I study water or aquatic ecology or streams, lakes, and wetlands or aquatic ecosystems.  I usually say that I catch things.  You know, things like bugs or fish or water or rocks or mud.  I catch things, then other people help me measure and count them, and then I try and figure out what it all means.

This was the second time that I’ve given an I’m a scientist lesson, and I tweaked a few things from the previous time.  This time I just wanted to focus on the idea that anybody can become a scientist.  I wanted to stress to the kids that *they* could become scientists.  So, I started with the question, “What does a scientist wear?”  Most answered with what I had come to expect as a typical view: a lab coat and the 3 G’s (Goggles, Glasses,  Gloves).  Some saw what I had in mind right from the start and said, “anything.”  That’s when I went for the cheap applause.  I told them, “I study streams.  This is what I wear,” and I put on my chest waders.

We talked about why scientists might wear what they wear (safety, convenience, comfort, it looks cool).  I showed scientists underwater, in space, at an active volcano, and in a laboratory.  We talked about why they might be wearing what they were wearing.  Next, I showed a slide with pictures of all kinds of people:  old, young, tall, short, men, women, Albert Einstein, a long-haired dude on a motorcycle, a woman in a wheel chair, a young girl at a microscope, and all different races and nationalities.  I asked which of these is a scientist?  Now, of course, the trick of the thing was that they were *all* scientists.  The kids talked about which ones they thought were scientists and why.  Some of them argued.   Others caught on right away that it was all a scam and that everyone can be a scientist.

At the end, I asked them specifically, “So… what does a scientist look like?” Most of them agreed that a scientist can look like anybody, because anybody can be a scientist.  Others still thought you had to have a lab coat and goggles, glasses, and gloves.  They all seemed to agree that I was a scientist, though.  I’m not sure if was the glasses or the waders.

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About Robert C Everhart

GK-12 Fellow University of Kansas
This entry was posted in 2011-2012 GK12, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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