What does a scientist look like? We kicked off our science lesson drawing sketches that answered this question. Students had diverse responses ranging from a male with crazy hair, a lab coat, and goggles to themselves. Students mentioned tools like beakers, test tubes, and chemicals. Words like experiments and predictions were also discussed. Many of our students’ pictures of what a scientist looked like were similar. One student shared her relatives were scientists and they look like us. Another student told us she was a scientist.
We watched a short Ted Talk about our exact conversation, discovering more about scientists and their work. Then I asked students to write down what a scientist is. The conversation shifted to a person who is curious, makes discoveries, tests things, takes risks, and could be like us. Reshaping the question changed the dynamic of the discussion.
On Friday our class will be Skyping with scientist! His name is Filipe, and he works for the Finnish Museum of Natural History in Helsinki, Finland. Filipe studies "Biodiversity conservation." He currently creates small virtual ecosystems to aid him in predicting which species might fall into extinction in the near future, so that we know (as a global society) with more certainty how to invest our money into conservation. He is an adept of organisms that are often under-represented in science and conservation, and that often includes insects, mites, and springtails.
Students had time to write down questions and many wanted to know what a springtail was! I look forward to removing stereotypes, bringing science to life and showing how we are all scientists every day!