When did you become interested in science? Was there a particular teacher you remember that made science fun for you? Over the weekend I had the opportunity to take part in an outreach event at a National Science Teachers Association conference. K-12 teachers from all over the Pacific Northwest came to Seattle to get ideas for science activities and teaching techniques.
The Science Matters Community Event was for kids to get some hands-on experience with science activites, and was also open to teachers to get new ideas about how to bring science into the classroom. Participants included NOAA, Islandwood, the Experience Music Project, and UW Chemistry, which was the booth where I was helping out.
It was fun to see the kids’ surprise as the shook up our “reaction vessel” (plastic soda bottle) to turn the solution from pink to dark purple. And we discussed a potential chemistry lab with high school teachers where they could turn vegetable oil into biofuel. The lab can be used to introduce topics from conservation to combustion. It was great to see how excited the teachers were about bringing new experiences into their classrooms. Interest in science can begin very early, and it seems like these teachers are ready to support that interest.
As graduate students, we have many demands on our time. But I highly recommend taking part in science outreach activities if you can. They can be a minimal time commitment, but a great way to interact with the community outside of the university.