Sunday, December 25, 2011

Santa brings you an update!

Happy Holidays! I have spent the last few days relaxing at home in San Diego, CA. I love being around the family. For Christmas, I received a twitter feed for my blog!

My twitter feed ----------------------->

Ooooh! Aaaaah!

New posts about Geoscience Education Videos ASAP! Hope everybody reading is happy, warm, well and surrounded by great people.


My current writing space:
Happy Holidays from my home to yours!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Educational Videos #1

Little did I know, an idea I had for a post during the AGU meeting would become such a large topic! I have decided to break up the topic of geology educational videos into several posts over the next week, and this will probably be a reoccurring topic from time to time.

This post was inspired by a series of videos posted by the American Geologic Institute Education Program about the "Big Ideas" in the geosciences. They are a series of ten videos, ranging from 5-7 minutes in length. I was excited about this new development, and to share their YouTube channel with the educational community (the videos mentioned are contained within the YouTube link). [More on their awesome videos in a bit!]

While preparing for this blog post, I read a blog post about YouTube for Schools on Mashable. Marketing a educational video database was a new concept to me, and Mashable post gave some compelling arguments for it.  Check out the commercial below:

Apparently I wanted to open Pandora's Box, because curiosity inspired me to check out the competition...

There are soooo many of these sites out there. A quick sweep of the competition revealed videos of varying scientific caliber, audience demographic, and technological quality. I will review YouTube for Schools, and other educational video databases from geoscientist perspective. Also, I would love feedback from teachers, and their experiences using these same sites! 

Expected Post Schedule
Educational Videos #2 : GamePlan
Educational Videos #3 : Random Sites
Educational Videos #4 : TeacherTube
Edcuational Videos #5 : 
Educational Videos #6 : Weekend Thoughts

This will hopefully be completed over the coming week. Hope to see you back!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Mentors Mentors Everywhere - with great advice to spare!

The American Geophysical Union fall meeting (#AGU2011) has always been a way for me to stay involved with the scientific community, and reconnect with my friends from throughout my scientific career. At a reception early in the week my colleague was discussing a grant she was a co-PI on. She has a similar career working for a scientific non-profit but she is co-PI on a diversity grant. At public events I felt she was treated with greater respect by my colleagues, yet I knew how similar our backgrounds were. My knee-jerk reaction was jealousy, even though that emotion was coupled with excitement for her to be involved with something so positive!

Another LOLcat sums it up....
But then I remembered I was at a meeting with 20,000 geoscientists; a handful of which were my career mentors! (A quick history about myself, I have a tendency to snowball when things aren't exactly to my liking instantly) I decided, instead of getting mad I needed to use this AMAZING opportunity to GET SMART! So I called/emailed all the people I knew were there and asked for help.

The feedback was immensely helpful. I was first despondent about my failure to write a successful grant of ANY variety in grad school. To my surprise, found out that a vast majority of master's-holding students haven't worked on grants, and sometimes the best way to get into that circuit is to be added as a co-PI by somebody who knows the ropes, and the appropriate phrasing already at hand. I didn't realize that I was potentially in the majority. Another mentor mentioned volunteering to edit a journal, and option that I wasn't aware of.

Perhaps the most reassuring moment was when I realized what a phenomenal network I have of colleagues. I'm currently trying to set up a mixer between Scientific 20/30-Somethings in the DC Area because of it. My friends had such great advice about how to take my career to the next level, and really helped me feel less discouraged about where I am after about 2 years in the workforce. I felt proud and it quelled my jealousy because my friend who is working on a grant, was one of the first ones to pull me aside and help me out (that is why you NEVER let jealousy get the best of your friendships!). 

The conversation I most dreaded was with my advisor. I've always been insecure (although conversations over the past two years have helped assuage my fears) about the quality of work I produced as a graduate student. I measured myself against my colleagues who wrote successful grants, and I constantly worried about the quality of my technical writing. Some of the feedback still haunts me. In retrospect, I recognize how much work has helped me further develop my professionalism. I never worried about the science though, I was always steadfast in the quality of it. 

I was however, hesitant of approaching the subject of working on my MELTS research again. To my surprise my advisor, and constant mentor didn't let me down (not because of her letting me down ever, I was just convinced of my utter suckage as a student). She expressed it was a great idea, if nothing else than to keep in the game. I know its ridiculous to put a lot of weight in what other people's opinions, but I always will. The unofficial blessing made me excited and confident about getting back into the research game, but in a way that won't require me to leave my work in science education outreach. I'm getting my cake and eating it too!

PS This post was written from 37,000 ft! HUZZAH!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Walking the Line

I have had an amazing two years. I finished my masters degree in geology (ahem volcanology!) from an amazing university in the most idyllic Washington town, and moved across the country to the capitol of the United States, the other Washington; Washington DC. I worked in Congress covering Earth science legislation. However did I get so lucky? Not long after my internship ended, and I was gainfully employed as a science educator focused on marketing education. The exact job I had envisioned for myself.

Two years later something happened, my advisor's current student called and needed some information related to my master's thesis. I spent an hour in our basement pouring over papers and notes from my thesis. We kibitzed over hypotheses; synthesizing the ideas of others, and reconciling them with our own. We mused about technological limitations, and what the impact of certain tests could do to our expected results. I looked over images and graphs, which upon first glance would mean nothing to most people, but to a select few they reveal important information about the experiences of tiny crystals - feldspar, olivine and clinopyroxene, in their host magmas. I started flirting with the idea of trying to "stay involved." 

Last Friday's blog post from The Eruptions Blog took a break from the Friday tradition of looking at volcanoes from space, looked instead at the crystals frozen-in-time in solidified lava flows. The textures of these tiny crystals betray the mysteries volcanoes conceal, and reveal clues why and eruption may have happened. This post woke me up from dormancy. This post reminded me of something I'm intensely curious about and worked very hard to understand.

The image that started it all. Copyright National Geographic
Image taken by Carsten Peter. Carsten, if you are ever on Etna
the same time as me, we're going out for wine. 
This post turned my "idea" into a "crusade."

That's why I'm determined to walk the line. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) describes four career types, three of which have career pathways that fit in packages with nice bows on top (Government, Industry, PhD/Research). The fourth is less defined, and appears to be where you place the people who can't ever be at peace with what they do. They are the people who work for non-profits, are freelance science writers, and who are invariably bound to education and communication. These individuals take "non-traditional" scientific career paths.

As I have progressed in my non-traditional career, removing myself from traditional research I have learned what the phrase "early career" means. While I love what I do, I've found the scientific aspects of my endeavor lacking. I miss using that part of my brain I spent so long developing, challenging, and engaging. The part of my brain where true science lies, where you think critically is no longer being engaged. I miss the adventure of research and somehow I intend to get back into it.