Thursday, April 26, 2012

How to talk to kids at #SciFest

(a how-to for unsure professionals)

I posted three questions for students, but I've decided to post three questions for scientists and engineers. I have always happily worked with younger-folk, but I have encountered a lot of professionals who are unsure with their ability to engage and relate to kids and teenagers. Ironically, kids and teenagers are sometimes afraid to approach professionals. Since the US Science and Engineering Festival Expo is only TWO days away, here are: 

THREE questions for scientists to get a conversation going!

Getting answers to important questions.

  1. What is their dream job?
  2. What is their favorite class?
  3. Have they considered college?

These questions appeal to all ages. It has been my experience that all students, even if it's buried under shyness or age, still have a dream job. Sometimes you just have to coax it out of them.

Classes are another common denominator for students, and sometimes the answers to this question can be surprising. The number of times I've heard students list math as their favorite class warms my heart. It seems students just aren't sure what jobs are available to mathematicians.

Lastly, some of these students may be on a path to become the first person in their family to go to college. College is typically necessary to be a scientist and this point should be underscored. Engaging the student, and their parents/guardians about what college was like can provide valuable insight about a worthwhile venture. There are many challenges students face getting to college and first-hand testimony from somebody who understands it's importance can be invaluable.

Celebrate Science!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Back to scheduled programming in a minute

but first....

My volcano, Mount Etna, is erupting (again)! I'm seriously in love. I'm not even researching Etna right now and I'm still excited. More importantly, I'm still glad I decided to study it. I knew it was a sexy volcano when I picked it, and I have yet to be disappointed.

Check out today's paroxysm!

I wish I was there to see it in person, but thank goodness for the digital age. If I could, I would sample the most recent lava flows, run chemical analyses on the mineral phases (aka crystals), and do a full petrographic analysis. I want to do a comparative analysis to MELTS models and further develop a hypothesis about the magmatic plumbing system.

Sigh.... I miss petrology. Oh well, I know someday I'll be back. Once I figure out how to get access to journals cheaply I can start MELTS modeling again, and even branch out to other volcanoes. I positively can't wait. 


Monday, April 23, 2012

2012 US Science and Engineering Festival Expo

Go Interview a Scientist!

Hands-on science!
This weekend is the second US Science and Engineering Festival Expo, and it sounds even BIGGER, BETTER and MORE EXCITING than the first! It's important to go if you're considering being a scientist or engineer when you grow up. The main event is in Washington DC and there are satellite events nationwide. Scientists from every discipline will be there. Interviewing these professionals can help you figure out what you can do to have an exciting job.

Here are three questions to get your interview started:

Talking to robots!

  1. What is their job/job title?
  2. What was their major in college?
  3. Which classes were most helpful?

"Shoot for the moon and even if
you miss, you'll
land among the stars"

How to use this Information:

Asking these questions connects jobs with the majors you should consider in college. Knowing which classes are important gives you time to participate in programs that will help you before you go to college, like enrolling in AP programs, so you start college ready to jump into the fun stuff!

If you're an older student nearing college or have just started search for jobs using the "job title" and "college major" information from your interviews. Adding a phrase like "entry level" pulls job postings intended for recent college graduates. This can be done using job posting sections of local and major newspaper websites (New York TimesLA TimesWashington Post), scientific and professional society websites (follow link, search USA on page), and even Craigslist. This way you can see what skills/classes employers want to see. This is valuable information to take to college advisers to get further guidance on tailoring your college curriculum.

Have fun at the expo and believe in yourself!

*all images used with permission from the US National Science and Engineering Festival

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Tornadoes in CA

So my coworker told me about the Storm Prediction Center (SPC), and it is a resource to track daily meteorological events. This resource is common knowledge for meteorologists, but as a geologist I was BLOWN away! (tee hee - get the joke?) One cool feature of the SPC site is the "reports" tab are all the official logged NOAA reports about tornado, hail, and wind events that have occurred around the United States in the past 24 hours.

An image of the April 11, 2012 Stockton CA tornado.
A cool fact: today's only tornado (thus far, there's still 3.5 hours left!) was in Stockton, CA. Just as DC was caught unprepared by an earthquake, I'm sure many Californians are blissfully ignorant to the possibility of a tornado (but lets be serious all kinds of severe weather!) striking them. Check it out: there was a tornado near Stockton!

I just wanted to throw this out there to remind those I love that you should always be ready for anything. Take a moment to review the National Weather Services' StormReady website. Also, if you're a science enthusiast remember the SPC is a great way observe what's happening around the country.