Friday, July 9, 2021By:
Thursday we had our virtual picnic. It began with an interesting talk by Rush Holt, former US representative and AAAS CEO. It was really interesting to hear his perspective as someone who has been part of science policy. He discussed how science policy is the way it is: after the scientific advancements of the second world war, the US, namely the science advisor to FDR, Vennevar Bush, believed science needed to stay funded and supported by the government. He made very poignant points about science literacy, how sometimes the science of elite scientists only matters if the public can understand it. He used COVID as an example, the incredible scientific advancement of the vaccines only matter if people are willing to take it. It is a sort of “if the tree falls in the forest argument” that science can only help people who believe science can help them. For the public to believe science can help them, they have to feel empowered by science, that they have the tools to understand it. This is the job of science communicators: to make science not only digestible, but to include the public in the scientific process. Not only is science held back when people are hesitant to approach problems empirically, but so are many other aspects of policy. After this, intensely philosophical talk and discussion, we played games. My mentor, Audrey, was kind enough to attend and it was fun to get to know her more outside work.
In other news this week, I concluded my Laura Bassi teaching guide: replicating her 18th century experimental physics classroom in elementary school classrooms, complete with a diploma! I have started reaching out to the researchers for my Physics Today article about Eunice Foote and it has been really cool to talk to the people whose work I spent so much time reading. I am super excited for this article, I hope you all read it!