Vote on Student Ideas for Saving the World Through Science

The Kavli Foundation, which gives awards to science writers annually with the American Association...

It's The Daily "Science" Show - Circa MIT

MIT physicist Cesar Hidalgo is experimenting with a new television program that gets scientists...

Are We Focusing our Engineering and Science Efforts on the Wrong Age Group?

In a recent article in the NY Times, Christopher Drew discussed one of the primary ways we as a...

Coming Soon from a Science Festival Near You

In the last couple of years STEM organizations from across the nation have come together in an...

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Aimee SternRSS Feed of this column.

Aimee is a 20 year veteran of the marketing communications, journalism and education fields. She excels at transforming scientific and technical information into concise messages, articles and written... Read More »

Blogroll, an organization started by the dynamic and committed citizen scientist Darlene Cavalier, has a noble goal. It wants to demonstrate to young girls that it’s OK to be pretty, smart, and love science. In fact, all of the cheerleaders want young girls to believe in themselves and do what they love to do.

At the first USA Science&Engineering Festival in 2010, the Science Cheerleaders drew large crowds, as they shook their pompoms, did a brief summary of what kind of scientists and medical specialists they are, and joined in unison to yell “Go Science.”
Over the past several years, a growing number of trade associations, foundations and science and engineering companies have started major efforts to get scientists into schools and hopefully inspire students with what they do. The goal, of course, is to get kids interested in pursuing careers in scientific fields, by showing them just how cool science is.

But I wonder -  no matter how well meaning, how much do these Meet the Scientist programs really do what they are intended to? It seems to me, there are deep flaws in these valiant efforts, that if addressed could make Meet the Scientist programs far more effective. Here are some of the challenges:
As a member of the  "Jaws" generation I have mixed feelings about a story I read this morning detailing the plight of the severely endangered great white shark.

Oh I'm not talking about the affect that the extinction of these ancient killers will have on the oceans or the loss of a species. Nor am I talking about the legacy that a generation which is still debating global warming is leaving our children. I'm talking about a generation of kids who are still afraid of the ocean because of that movie. And I just can't reconcile the two.
My son just wrote an article for his 10th grade journalism class about a couple on their way to plan a Disney wedding in Orlando - their long-held dream wedding - who were hit by a truck driver that just had to answer a text in the middle of a highway. She was killed and her family now speaks regularly about the dangers of texting and driving. My neighbor has a smart, pretty, 19 year-old daughter who is glued to her cell phone. It buzzes all through dinner, and although she won't necessarily answer it, she stares at it anxiously each time it starts vibrating. She hit another car while she was texting, destroying hers, but fortunately not hurting anyone.
A number of scientific organizations these days are creating Meet the Scientist programs and sending scientists and engineers out into public schools, science cafes, and other venues with the hope that they can drum up interest in pursuing careers in these fields. The idea is students will come to an assembly or a festival or some other place and be inspired by the excitement of learning how scientists work.
I went to a conference this morning at the Hope Street Group, a DC-based think tank. They had a panel of doctors, PhDs, a lawyer, consultants, John Podesta (Clinton's healthcare czar) and an economist discussing Using Open Innovation to Reinvent Primary Care.

Panel moderator was former Washington Post healthcare policy reporter Ceci Conelley who jumped ship to McKinsey probably for gobs more money.

While no one mentioned the P-word (price) a great deal of the discussion centered around reducing costs.

Some points were really interesting. Among them: