Recently I was honored to be asked to present at a STEM Night at Christ Lutheran School, a Pre-K through 8th grade school. The subject matter was left completely up to me, so I was not sure what direction to go. In the end, I decided to stick with my strengths, Geology and Planetary Science. When I was preparing my materials, I was unsure of how much to bring and stressed about bringing the right samples to hopefully garner a reaction of awe from the children. Even on my way to the event, I constantly wondered if I should have brought more.
That evening I put 4 billion year old meteorites in the hands of 5 year olds, showed rocks from all areas across our country to grandparents….and talked with people of all ages in between. We talked about robots on Mars, how the planets formed, why there are so many sedimentary rocks in Kansas City, and why Venus is so bright at night. I was greeted with some great questions from children of all ages, a skill that is the sign of a scientist. It is truly a joy to see a child hold something fascinating in their hands, inspect it from every perspective, and then watch their mind at work.
By the end of the evening, what I realized is that what was important wasn’t what I brought with me, but rather the time I spent with the people from Christ Lutheran School. Regardless of what your passion is in life, one of the most important aspects of what you do is to be an ambassador to others, talk to them about it. Its not about what you can get in return and its not about persuasion, its about telling an exciting story to someone who has not learned about what you are passionate about. My hope is that one of the children I spoke with wants to get a library book on rocks after we talked, maybe they look up at the night sky now with wonder, or maybe they now look at the rocks along the highway while in the car. Being an ambassador is about creating awareness and appreciation.
Being ambassadors of Science is an objective of the Science Department at Rockhurst High School. We want to serve our community by educating them about the world they live in and how it works. Not only do we want our teachers to be ambassadors, but we want our students to do the same. We want our students talking to others about what excites them in science and show them how the phenomena that our planet is governed by works.
The wonder of science is about people.