Yesterday on Twitter I asked:
Right. Switching hashtags. What science thing first made you really *feel* something? #sciencespark— Ben Lillie (@BenLillie)
The response was amazing! Hundreds of people tweeted their science spark moment. I managed to storify about 150 of them.
What’s also amazing were the trends. I had been thinking of “thing” as books or TV or movies. I’m glad I wasn’t that specific, because a large majority of tweets were about experiences — with parents or teacher or on their own, in forests and tide-pools and museums. If there’s one takeaway here, it that to get people interested in science show them actual things and have them really do stuff, let them play and explore. Of course, that’s been noticed many times before, but I love how clearly it comes through here.
Beyond that, the surprising thing is how few trends there were. A couple books were mentioned more than once, and oceans and space were popular. But the array of different experiences and books and TV shows inspired people. Some found it playing or reading alone, some with strong encouragement from parents, some by watching the moon landing or Jane Goodall. Every different discipline of science was represented. Even within disciplines, what excited people varied wildly — the big bang and the weirdness of Saturn in Astronomy, or poisonous animals to the human genome project in biology. So the second less is to do everything, and to recognize that there is almost certainly no best way. (I’m sure there are many bad ways, to be sure — but neither is any one approach best.)
Here are some of my favorite tweets, with the full storify below. (I think it missed a ton. If you notice yours missing send me a note with the link. I’ll also add new ones as they come.)
My father is an illiterate mechanic with a 3rd-grade education, who let me play with his tools as soon as I could reach them. #sciencespark— Sola Balisane (@balisane)
— Erin Podolak (@ErinPodolak)
@BenLillie 1978. Louise Brown, the first test-tube baby. I was 15, in Ireland where even contraception was still illegal. Eye-opening stuff!— The Bringer (@_pherousa)
I was born the year after. I don’t even notice how amazing that is, huge moment for @_pherousa.
My #sciencespark was a weird science teacher who brought roadkill into class. In hindsight that was a TERRIBLE idea.— Rose Eveleth (@roseveleth)
I think she meant “FANTASTIC idea.”
— Chris Gunter (@girlscientist)
I MEMORIZED parts of that book.
#sciencespark for me:anything David Attenborough but I remember seeing his Mt St Helens episode as kid and suddenly understanding ecosystems— Kelsey McCartney (@mthumanist)
Volcanos -> Ecosystems. Geology and biology aren’t separate.
This week’s Story Collider podcast: At age 7, Deborah Blum starts a mystery when she interrupts her parent’s dinner party. So their guest, famed biologist E.O. Wilson, investigates.
I love this. Deborah Blum has become famous as the Queen of all things poison, the guest you definitely want at dinner, but who will make you look at your food side-eye the whole time.
And so on the one hand, of course she had a run-in with poison early in life. But also, as she says, the one didn’t lead directly to the other. She had a very long and successful* career before turning to poison (er, writing about poison). Real life is always more complicated (and generally more wonderful) than the easy story.
*Pulitzer Prize winning, in fact.
This week’s Story Collider podcast: What’s the worst that can happen when you let a recent college grad command a $330 million spacecraft?