“As you sip your coffee, think about all the science behind it: in agriculture, processing, roasting, extraction. Then think of all the science around you: in your cell phone, your compter, even your food. Shouldn’t everyone be educated to understand the science that permeates their lives?”
— Dr. David Baltimore, president, California Institute of Technology and Nobel laureate in physiology
I think back on classes in my early years and know that many of us watched the clock more than we did the teacher.
The outdoors was calling for us. Especially in September, it seemed impossible to break the allure of green grass under our feet, mud between our toes. It was so easy to slip out of the classroom by daydreaming an exit through the open windows.
“Where are your shoes?” was the question I heard hundreds of times after a great day exploring. I loved following my sisters into the creek, hoping to find a new creature living there. We watched minnows in the cold waters of springtime, following their progressive changes through the summer. It was fascinating and fun for us, as though we were solving an ancient puzzle.
I have often thought that the study of science ought to be fun. Mostly, the subject of science in the classroom feels, to the majority of students, like drudgery and boring recitation of facts.
I felt this way until I met Amanda.
Amanda worked for COSI, the Center of Science and Industry, spending part of her time in Columbus and a great deal of time on the road with her traveling science bus.
Amanda knows how to make science fun times ten gazillion. She can throw a little science experiment together that makes children and adults alike simply light up with fascination.
I met Amanda while manning the early-morning coffee counter at Starbucks a very long time ago, and the quote at the beginning of this column comes straight off of a Starbucks cup. Amanda was an early-morning regular, always ordering a large mocha for the road, and we joked that she was simply doing a science experiment to see how caffeine helps perk the body along.
When Amanda drove up to the coffee shop in her colorful COSI van, a fellow couldn’t help but stop and look. “What IS that vehicle?” people would ask, as it was painted in vibrant hues of reds, yellows, blues, purple splashes for added impact.
“That is a traveling science exhibit, and we have loads of fun!” Amanda would reply. She now lives near Denver and teaches at an outdoor school, and all these years later, we remain friends.
COSI is well worth the trip to Columbus, putting science and industry in a whole new light. Break away from real life for a day and make the trip. You’ll be glad you did.
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