Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The science that sticks

I listen to a podcast on my way to work called Stuff You Missed in History Class. It touches on people I've never heard of before, takes a much deeper dive on stories that may have only gotten a paragraph in my history textbooks and offers up a lot of non-U.S. history, which I thoroughly enjoy.

The particularly pleasing thing about the podcast is that they usually center the episode on a person's life, instead of an overall event. I find it much more engaging to hear about the people behind famous movements, policies or historical events than the actual event itself. The podcast reminds me that history is alive and it is very human.

I've been thinking about all this as I was reading this study in which teens performed better in science after learning that famous scientists - like Einstein and Madame Curie - struggled in their careers. I remember when I was in school and the nuns would talk about famous scientists - we would get a list of their achievements without any other context. I can definitely see the appeal in learning that the people behind the lists of awards and achievements struggled along the way.

We have all heard so many stories about the starving artist or struggling musician that we forget that scientists are people, too, and their stories are just as engaging (if not more) than the science they've produced.

And maybe humanizing science - even just a little - is a good way to help make it stick.

Did you enjoy science class when you were young? Tell me in the comments.