As I recently told a crowd of science educators, I didn't discover my own interest in science until I was an adult, at which point is was far too late to switch careers. Before then, I was a strict humanities person -- a comparative literature major and then a journalist surrounded by friends and family with similar interests. What broke me out of my humanities cocoon was, for the first time, meeting and working closely with scientists and marveling at their incredibly "cool jobs." We've all heard that even young children carry preconceived notions of what scientists do; that, when asked to draw a scientist, kids will invariably sketch someone with crazy hair blowing up chemicals in a lab. Many of us carry these sad misconceptions into adulthood. The only way to break them is to introduce more kids (and adults) to more scientists.
That is one of the chief aims of the World Science Festival, which concludes today in New York City. It's also the main objective of "Cool Jobs," one of my favorite WSF events, where kids hear from scientists who break stereotypes and do work that stirs the imagination.. You can click on the above video link to watch "Cool Jobs" live from 11 am Eastern Standard Time until noon. I'll also be live blogging the event from New York University's Skirball Center for the Performing Arts.
You'll get to meet:
Holly Robbins -- A researcher who studies how humans and computers interact
Michelle Khine -- A biomedical engineer from U.C. Irvine who has been known to experiment with Shrinky Dinks
Amanda Kinchla -- A food safety expert at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Katherine Isbister -- A designer of digital games at New York University's Polytechnic Institute
and Edwin Olson -- A roboticist at the University of Michigan