Reach your science potential – why fancy labs and equipment don’t matter

Reach your science potential – why fancy labs and equipment don’t matter

By Rebecca Woodbury Keller

Reach your science potential – why fancy labs and equipment don’t matter

Compassionate science is about humanizing our science and other STEM fields of study and implementation. It includes paying attention to barriers and access to health care, scientific research, how we communicate research findings, etc., and actively working to change our methods to be more inclusive, more human-centric. 

This also applies to education. What about compassionate science education? Let’s consider taking a compassionate approach to learning science. Parents and teachers do not want to see their kids or students fail to reach their dreams. And, when it comes to learning how to become a doctor, scientist, or engineer, not all schools and classes are the same. Some kids have more access to tools, higher quality materials, and advanced technology. This advantage can ultimately affect a student’s access to studying STEM disciplines, and their confidence that they can pursue a STEM-related career.  

Shifting perspectives. 

Do the best programs for teaching science really require large budgets and fancy equipment? It turns out, that learning science, real science, and mastering science subjects, isn’t dependent on bigger budgets, fancier lab equipment, or the latest laptops and tablets. Learning real science can be as easy as opening up a kitchen cupboard and mixing a few familiar household items. It boils down to starting with a bit of the right information, asking a few key questions, and then testing, tinkering, and trying new ideas.

Each of us can inspire the students in our lives with an open perspective on learning and exploring science. 

  • The right information at the right time in the right structure can make all the difference in the world to whether or not a child decides to pursue or abandon a dream of becoming a doctor, scientist, or engineer. 

  • I grew up in a small town in rural New Mexico. Our school didn’t have very much money and although my teachers did the best they could, I started behind my peers when I went to college. I wasn’t exposed to the kind of science I needed to feel confident in my dream of becoming a scientist. Struggling during my first few classes, I was lucky to find some friends with a stronger science foundation – they helped me see that I could pursue science. This confidence drove me to work harder. Some schools do provide a structure and access for kids to explore science learning – this access needs to be available for all students, independent of socioeconomic factors. 

    If a child wants to be a chemist, discovering new chemicals that can cure disease, or clean up waste, or help a farmer grow healthier plants, that child has a better chance of becoming a chemist, if they learn about atoms, molecules, and chemical reactions in the early grades and are encouraged to experiment, tinker, and play with chemistry. 

    If a child wants to engineer and design a faster mountain bike, they have a better chance of becoming an engineer if they are introduced to force, work, and torque in the early grades and are encouraged to tinker, test, and experiment with gears and come up with their own ideas.

    Great resources are nice, but learning real science simply takes the right information with the right encouragement, and the right support to pursue a dream. 

    When kids don’t have access to our best science programs, we are limiting the abilities of many children to reach their dreams. This has consequences for us all. 

    RATATAZ is designed to help students feel comfortable being introduced to complex subjects and accelerate their understanding with self-initiated questions. It can be used in the classroom and at home.