Science is a lifelong endeavor. This February 11th, I am celebrating the International Day of Women and Girls in Science by reflecting upon what it means to be a scientist. In elementary school, my favorite school field trips were visits to the Roper Mountain Science Center, especially when those visits included trips to the Planetarium. In middle school, I won third place in the school science fair when I hypothesized that Coca-Cola would clean dirty pennies better than a commercial silver cleaner (I’m pretty sure I was wrong). In high school, I relished titrating to produce a brilliant magenta solution with the right combination of chemicals in my Erlenmeyer flask. In college, I went geocaching for the first time, learning about GPS devices while traipsing through the woods in a part of campus I’d never bothered to explore before.
Now, as a mom, I still enjoy the thrill that only science can bring. I conduct nightly science experiments when cooking dinner for my family or baking with my children. From deep in the recesses of my brain, I recreate science activities from my past with my sons at home: making homemade fire starters from paper egg cartons and dryer lint, combining vinegar and baking soda for a kitchen explosion, and creating a shaving cream storm in a jar to show how clouds release their moisture. I never miss the bi-weekly release of my favorite podcast, Gastropod, in which female co-hosts Cynthia Graber and Nicola Twilley examine food through the lens of science and history.
I’m willing to bet you’re a scientist, too.
- Have you ever used baking soda to clean a stubborn stove?
- When you’re in nature, do you notice the leaves changing color, tadpoles in a stream, or a bird’s unusual coloring?
- Did you take up a new hobby, like breadmaking or creating different varies of slime, during the earliest months of the COVID-19 pandemic?
- When the forecast calls for snow or rain, do you find yourself glued to the Doppler radar?
- Have you ever tried a different route on your way home from work, just to see if you reach your destination a little faster?
- Do you add fertilizer to your lawn, eggshells to your hydrangeas, or kitchen scraps to your compost heap?
- Have you ever debated the merits of a PCR test versus a rapid antigen test for detecting COVID-19?