What does a Scientist look like??

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013 | EMILY HALL | No Comments

Do a google image search for Scientist and you get a lot of images that look like this guy in the picture. Although I was somewhat heartnened to see that some were women, by far the vast majority were men and most were white. Somewhat foolishly, I then google image searched Physicist and it was white males as far as the eye could see. I’m not sure why I didn’t see that one coming.

The first day of class in my Year 12 Physics class every year, I always get the students to draw a Physicist. Because I am in a girls’ school and 3/4 of the Science department are female, you’d expect to see lots of women in the mix, but year after year I get pictures like the one on the left. We then go through the exercise of talking about Physicists who are not stereotypical in an attempt to get them to see that Physicists are real people and that anyone, including them, can be one.

I recently ran across this http://lookslikescience.tumblr.com/ and had to share it. Allie Wilkinson, an American journalist, solicits pictures and short bios from anyone doing Science who wants to submit. The result is a collection of people of all ages, ethnicities and genders doing Science but also dancing, skating, running, being human.

Definitely going to show this one to my classes and hopefully it will help them see Science not as some unreachable thing but something that is accessible to people just like them.

Camp time is almost here, 2013 OUASSA Intake!!

Monday, January 7th, 2013 | EMILY HALL | No Comments

Happy New Year! January camp is almost upon us and the preparations are in full swing! In the meantime, some New Year’s frivolity to ponder…
Did your New Year’s celebrations involve dancing around a tree to ensure luck in love? stocking up on supplies so as to ensure a year without poverty? wearing brand new clothes for wealth? did you open your doors at midnight to let the old year out? Or did a tall dark haired man come first footing with coal to ensure you had a good year?
Superstitions are rife around holiday times and often seem simple, harmless fun as we follow along in the ritual without really thinking about where they came from. But reading about the above and other New Year’s traditions to ensure luck and prosperity for the New Year got me thinking – where did these superstitions come from in the first place?
There was a time in human history where belief in magic and the occult was considered just good common sense. With the ideas of scientists such as Newton and Galileo offering alternative explanations to commonly observed phenomenon, our idea of what is common sense and rational began to change.
Many of us do hold strong to superstition though and I think this may be partly because we are unaware of or forget the saying drummed into many an aspiring Scientist “correlation does not imply causation”. For example, just because the last three times I killed a spider it rained doesn’t mean that every time I kill a spider it’s going to rain. The two things are correlated in my tiny experiment but there are way more factors to consider than just my spider killing and the rain falling. (For the record, I tend to have more of a catch and release policy towards spiders in real life 🙂 )
As the countdown begins and our new OUASSA 2013 students and teachers get ready to come see us (in just two weeks !) stay safe and healthy but also remain curious and observant of the world around you.