Guest post from Jen Vargas of Central Florida Top 5
As a young kid in class, I was a total right-brainer and scared of anything science related, particularly mathematics. Science was all a bunch of weird symbols I didn’t recognize, smelly chemicals and numbers jumbled about in puzzling ways that were too hard for me to figure out. My teachers tried their best but they couldn’t make this confusing world interesting for me. That is, until I discovered a secret world of science learning – on television!
In the 1980s and 1990s, this new form of pop culture infotainment changed my view on science, technology and mathematics. I got to learn “How Stuff Works” on Nickelodeon’s Mr. Wizard’s World. I helped solve crimes using science with PBS’s Bloodhound Gang on 3-2-1 Contact and my neighbors at Sesame Street made counting fun! If I had to personally credit one show it would be Square One Television, which completely shifted my view on all of this. Why? It made learning FUN and I could apply these entertaining lessons to my every kid life, in and outside of the classroom!
Comedy sketches, game shows, episodic mysteries and music videos (which were huge back then) about angles, multiplying, problem solving… I’m not kidding. Thanks to a Google search, over twenty years after the fact, I still enjoy the song “Angle Dance.” Thanks to this entertaining approach to science and mathematics education early in life, my great respect for the concept of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) was born.
Today, being a ‘kid of science’ is COOL! If you have ever visited ThinkGeek.com, you know what I mean. There are infinitely more ways to discover the world of science and technology beyond television and film. Smartphone games and applications from NASA, Sid the Science Kid, Umizoomi and Codeacademy to name a few, reach fresh minds and keep them thinking. I love seeing every day scientists and educators become SCI-lebrities, like Astrophysicist and host of Cosmos and StarTalk, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Physicist Brian Cox, OBE and Bill Nye (The Science Guy)!
Interactive events like Otronicon and Maker Faire are taking the learning beyond the next level for kids. I couldn’t imagine learning how to solder or program a computer in elementary or even middle school. In today’s world, kids are programming and assembling ROBOTS. How awesome is that?! Adults can get in on the action too thanks to events like Science of Wine and Science Night Live.
As an adult I remain science inspired daily by, of all things, social media. For example, in 2009, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) began hosting a series of meet ups with space enthusiasts on Twitter called ‘NASATweetup,’ later renamed ‘NASASocial’ to encompass all social media platforms. With these socials, speakers from all walks of science share information on what to look for in the near and distant future. Also great learning tools for all ages are Twitter chats, Facebook groups and informative YouTube feeds like ASAP Science.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jen Vargas is a TV, film and social media producer based in Orlando. She is the producer/host of Enzian FilmSlam, and serves on the Board of Directors of Woman in Film and Television Florida. Vargas is the founder of Wearables4Good and is the managing editor of CentralFloridaTop5.com.