Monday, February 9, 2015

Learning From the Not-So-Secret Lives of Scientists

"One of the most beautiful things about science is that it unifies all of us."
—Janna Levin, theoretical cosmologist and novelist

Have you ever drawn inspiration from someone else's story? Chances are that learning about what someone went through made you appreciate the person they are today. And, like all effective storytelling, it probably made you reflect on changes you could make in your own life, or steps you could take to fulfill your own goals.

People instinctively learn through and organize their thoughts in stories. A well-crafted narrative engages, enlightens and resonates over time. It also connects us. It builds community. That's why storytelling has made a resurgence in the business and marketing world—stories stick and they move people to action.

So let's apply the art of storytelling more in the realm of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. We need more young people to aspire to careers in STEM, so let's share stories of our successes, let's show them—by telling our own journeys—what success looks like as an engineer, as an inventor, as a cosmologist solving the mysteries of this weird and wonderful universe.

Some words of advice from Tiina Roose, professor of biological and environmental modeling at the University of Southampton in the UK, in The Guardian:
Universities should work with local communities, schools and teachers to talk about what engineering is. It’s important to start working with schools as early as possible – leaving it to secondary school level is actually too late. At the moment in primary schools, engineering only comes in during history lessons. If you explain to children, for example, that all this equipment in hospitals, where you have an x-ray or any procedure, would of had an engineer involved to develop the machine that has helped cure patients, it gives a broader impression early on to children of the wide possibility of this career.
When you view engineering as a narrow discipline, the chances are that it is not communicated in the most exciting way to students either. Some universities are offering narrow degrees – this inevitably means they are restricting their pool of applicants to a narrow remit.
That is so true.

If you're a scientist or engineer, volunteer your time sharing your personal story with students. If you're a teacher, reach out to a local company or university to find someone to speak to your class.

Thankfully, you don't have to wait even for that. We love PBS series, The Secret LIfe of Scientists and Engineers, a video series housed online, "where the lab coats comes off" and the experts talk about how they became the successful scientists they are today. Here's a link to the show's archive.

Bishop-Wisecarver has a video series of its own that we're particularly proud of. Our founder, Bud Wisecarver, is a prolific inventor (read more about that here, on our history page). To fully appreciate the breadth of his work, you have to listen to his story. And boy, is he a storyteller. We filmed him talking about his life's work and we're proud to share it with you. Below is the first in an eight-part series. For the rest, visit our YouTube page.
  


"There isn't one material thing on earth, that you could think of, that didn't start with a toolmaker."
—Bud Wisecarver, inventor, founder of Bishop-Wisecarver Group

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