The Nature of Science

September 17, 2012 in Uncategorized by Alex

We have all sat through numerous science classes thinking “I wish I could be somewhere else!!!” Don’t worry. I am a science major and I am planning on making a career out of it… It should be my LIFE!! I should love it!!! Right? Well not really,  because there have been times where I really can’t wait to get out of the class.  And I don’t think it has to do with my ability of understanding. I think it has to do with the fact that some teachers just suck the life out of their courses.  Last semester, I took a science class with… let’s call him… Dr. George (pseudonym)… at research one university in upstate New York. I was super excited to take this because I thought that it would tie in all the things I had been learning in my previous classes. I couldn’t have been more wrong.  Now Dr. George, loved his Ipad, so much, he created all of our lessons in it.  I had to sit in the class for 50 minutes, three times a week of tedious lecturing. Every picture, formula, structure became one big blob of boredom.  See I couldn’t stand the class, but I loved the readings… I just couldn’t understand why I hated the class so much. Now I know why… It wasn’t me. I know I am not a genius, but I am not slow. It was the teacher. It was the fact that he took all the life out of science and made it into one huge list of facts I had to memorize on a daily basis. Yes, science is fun! I will say it again: SCIENCE IS REALLY FUN!!!! But it has to be taught the right way.  You can’t just expect people to memorize a book of data without really understanding all of the work and time behind it.

It is true, that you are more likely to hear about the latest album Justin Bieber is releasing than you are about a breakthrough in scientific research.  Yet, people don’t realize that science is all around us.  Some engineer, not too long ago thought of a way in which he could built an efficient engine that could power an automobile.  Someone else had to think of a design for its wheel.  But people don’t really try see the many processes that occur beneath the surface.  Giant leaps have to be made to arrive to the theories and models that we learn about in our classrooms. Science is not done by a single, awkward person in the dungeon of a lab.  Scientist collaborate on every aspect: procedures, theories, findings, etc.  Yet our society continues to tell us that science isn’t something normal people do.  Everyone does science, whether they recognize it or not: Breathing may seem like second nature to you, but have you ever thought why it is important that we continue to do so?  What exchange occurs in our lungs that allow us to live? Why don’t we stop breathing when we fall asleep? Is there an area in our body that controls our breathing when we are not conscious?

Science is about continuing to make those questions.  Poking, probing and questioning every aspect.  And like it says on the comic sometimes it takes a miracle to come up with an explanation for the data you have in your hands.  So next time you sit in a classroom that you don’t like, don’t be like me, and sit through it thinking I would rather be somewhere else, try to think about it in a way that real scientists would think about it: How can I creatively think about this, and what is its purpose in life? Can I support my ideas? You don’t have to start anywhere specifically, for all that matters you can start at the end, the point is to keep making those questions!!!!