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Mad scientists
February 15, 2006 6:15 PM   Subscribe

A scientist is... Before and after drawings of scientists by seventh graders. Discussed at Cosmic Variance.
posted by tellurian (48 comments total)

 
While fieldtrips like that are definitely good, it always vaguely bothers me with this kind of thing how much like indoctrination education sounds - you can easily work out the talking points by the parroting. They all thought roughly the same thing beforehand, and they still all thought roughly the same thing afterwards, but now it's a slightly more accurate thing. Well, that's progress, and therefore at that age, education.
posted by -harlequin- at 6:39 PM on February 15, 2006


Fermilabs will change your gender (sex). Hmm. Strange.
posted by snsranch at 6:43 PM on February 15, 2006


I'm a scientist. I revel in our perceived madness.

Disclaimers: 1) I'm in that picture 2) Don't try drinking strange bubbling liquids at at home kids!
posted by lalochezia at 6:44 PM on February 15, 2006


I don't know, I think this before scientist is pretty sexy, both the picture and the lifestyle.
posted by TonyRobots at 6:54 PM on February 15, 2006


I don't know about this Eric guy. When his scientist switched from a stereotypical nerd to a stereotypical black man, he lost the ability to cure AIDS and cancer. "Sup y'all!"
posted by rustyiron at 6:56 PM on February 15, 2006


I saw people walking around in sweatshirts and jeans.

So they dressed up for the kids that day. Keeners!

Women, men, chemists, biologists, and physicists are all in the field of science.

No one cares that geologists are the sixth sex, 'cause they never get any anyway.

If you have a idea for a project that you want to work on, your boss doesn't stop you; he will tell you to go for it.

Ah the innocence of youth! The bitter fruit of the first grant proposal comes far too soon.

After today I learned that a scientist is more than a person doing experiments; he is a person with a life.

I'll bet the tour of Fermilab wasn't at 9PM on a Friday evening. There are no nerds like physics nerds.
posted by bonehead at 7:09 PM on February 15, 2006


"Their jobs sound very interesting because they can do whatever they want and they still get paid for it."

I think Katie was mistakenly taken to this tour.
posted by lenny70 at 7:17 PM on February 15, 2006


The kids who changed descriptions without significantly changing the drawings were interesting (Andy, Andrea) - you rather get the impression that you could ask them to draw a picture of a lion tamer and an accountant, and you'd get the same.
posted by jack_mo at 7:57 PM on February 15, 2006


"I saw people walking around in sweatshirts and jeans. Who knows? Maybe I can be a scientist."

priceless
posted by garethspor at 8:05 PM on February 15, 2006


What the children have taught me:

Scientists are often boozed up;
Some scientists looks less like Larry Fine than one expects;
Many scientists are attracted to, http://www-ed.fnal.gov/projects/scientists/james.html">yet not flattered by, striped sportshirts;
The reality of science is crushingly dull compared to the dream.
posted by maryh at 8:13 PM on February 15, 2006


dammit
posted by maryh at 8:14 PM on February 15, 2006


Maybe I'm the only one, but I actually found this a bit off-putting. I think it actually does more to confuse than to teach. The specific examples I'm talking about are the ones where the kids had images as the slightly crazy, always working, figuring out new things type of person, but came away that scientists have families, take vacations and play basketball. But having families, taking vacations and playing basketball may be what scientists do when they're not doing science ... but it's not what makes a scientist a scientist.
It seemed like they were downplaying the whole science part of being a scientist.

(full disclosure: I'm a close cousin of the scientist - the Engineer)
posted by forforf at 8:19 PM on February 15, 2006


Anyone else notice how the girls' "after" picture was far more often a girl (after an initial pic of a male scientist)? So, they were convinced they themselves could be scientists? If so, I'll take it.

-Does tons of math (ahem, tonnes of maths), but not so much science outside of that.
-Would like to wear sweats to work.
posted by sic friat crustulum at 8:35 PM on February 15, 2006


Apparently scientists are no longer concerned about staining their clothing. I'd think that would make them even more nerdy...
posted by Citizen Premier at 8:41 PM on February 15, 2006


This is SO awesome...but what's with all the pottery references? I don't like pottery at all, and I don't think I know any scientists who like pottery!
posted by easternblot at 9:05 PM on February 15, 2006


nitpicking aside, I liked it. The basic concept remains that these young kids came away with a positive view of being a scientist, and for many girls, a possible option.

~ex physics geek, engineer, female
posted by infini at 9:19 PM on February 15, 2006


I like this one. They're still evil, but now wearing baggier jeans.
posted by delmoi at 9:34 PM on February 15, 2006


Also, it seems like most people's conception of a 'scientist' is actualy of a 'chemist'.
posted by delmoi at 9:35 PM on February 15, 2006


Hahah, what's going on here

"To me, a scientist is bald and has hair coming out of the sides of his head ... Scientists live in their own world and the rest of society puts them there."
posted by delmoi at 9:37 PM on February 15, 2006


this one had a pretty good idea of what a scientist actually does (going to lots of symposiums), but I think she miscalculated their financial status a bit...
posted by delmoi at 9:40 PM on February 15, 2006


hahah, this kid drew his inital scientist in a shirt that says "ScienceShirts.com".
posted by delmoi at 9:43 PM on February 15, 2006


delmoi writes "hahah, this kid drew his inital scientist in a shirt that says 'ScienceShirts.com'."

I like how that one describes a scientist as "[being] on a very even keel". Seriously, how often do you hear anyone use that expression? That's awesome.
posted by vernondalhart at 10:00 PM on February 15, 2006


Scientists are people that brainwash kids into dispelling stereotypes.

"You would think scientists are nerds, but..."
posted by mr.dan at 10:16 PM on February 15, 2006


The purpose of the scientist is to flip out and kill people.
posted by breath at 10:32 PM on February 15, 2006


sic friat: Yes, I noticed. Very cool.

Awesome link. Thanks, tellurian.
posted by cribcage at 10:47 PM on February 15, 2006


I think Jessie's scientist was playing with a radiation source for a bit long. (or is the hulk)
posted by jba at 10:58 PM on February 15, 2006


I [don't] know any scientists who like pottery!

I know one.
posted by dirigibleman at 11:23 PM on February 15, 2006


Batman is a scientist.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:34 PM on February 15, 2006


Hello I am a regular person!"
posted by kosher_jenny at 11:51 PM on February 15, 2006


They should bring in a few Christian Scientists next time, just for fun.

(By the way, does calling the church "the First Church of Christ, Scientist" mean they think Christ was a scientist? Did Jesus wear striped shirts and like making pottery?)
posted by pracowity at 11:55 PM on February 15, 2006


I can't wait to have kids visit me at work once I become a scientist. "My scientist likes to motorcycle! Vrooom! Vrooooom!"

I love kids, and I love kids who love science doubly so.

I learned lucid dreaming at age 6; I wonder how easy it would be to teach to children....
posted by Eideteker at 5:40 AM on February 16, 2006


I noticed that too, Citizen Premier. Many of the actual pairs of drawings seem to be of the same person only without a lab coat.

And from the descriptions, I get the sense that these kids were either smart enough to figure out that the teacher wanted their "after" analysis to be counter-stereotypical. Either that or the scientists they talked to took all their time up by telling the students "We're not that nerdy, really."

I just hope they got to see some science too amongst all the scientists.
posted by ErWenn at 5:42 AM on February 16, 2006


delmoi: "hahah, this kid drew his inital scientist in a shirt that says "ScienceShirts.com"."

You know, that's probably pretty accurate.
posted by Plutor at 5:51 AM on February 16, 2006


"A scientist, truly, is a normal, happy, nice person", and nothing, apparently, like any of the scientists I know. Don't get me wrong, though, "normal, happy, nice" is terribly overrrated, IMO.

My favorite quote: I think everyone has little bit of science "love" in them. I'm thinking lab-coat fetish and sexy conversations over IRC ...
posted by bcveen at 5:58 AM on February 16, 2006


Ashley: "Women, men, chemists, biologists, and physicists are all in the field of science."

Wow! I didn't know that we scientists had two sexes more than normal people. Guess I've been to busy "living in my own world" to notice.

I wonder if a marriage between a chemist & a physicist violates the sanctity of marriage? Is my being chemist-to biologist transscientist a sin in the eyes of God?
posted by The Bishop of Turkey at 6:25 AM on February 16, 2006


Oops, meant 3 extra...
posted by The Bishop of Turkey at 6:25 AM on February 16, 2006


You know what? The kids were right in the first place. Scientists have Einstein hair and wear labcoats, and they walk around carrying fizzing beakers and laughing maniacally. If you don't do that, you have no right to call yourself a scientist. I'm sure that the people to whom the kids were introduced were perfectly nice, reasonable professionals working in the science field, but they weren't scientists.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:00 AM on February 16, 2006


Man....now I kinda wish I was a scientist.

I should have spent more time paying attention in bio 114 instead of following the sweet, sweet siren song of international relations.
*gazes at cube walls closing in around him*
Nooooooooooo......
posted by Baby_Balrog at 7:13 AM on February 16, 2006


Scientists have Einstein hair and wear labcoats, and they walk around carrying fizzing beakers and laughing maniacally.

Describes my experience in Chemistry grad school pretty well. Of course, I tie-dyed my labcoat... :)
posted by darkstar at 8:04 AM on February 16, 2006


"With most jobs you might say, 'When is it ever going to be five thirty?' But the scientists I talked to say, 'Is it five thirty, already?'"

Right on, man!
posted by Modem Ovary at 8:04 AM on February 16, 2006


I think it's perfectly healthy to see an occupation as not only personable and normal, but also accessible. Kids should grow up wanting to be what ever they want, and still realize they can do things like pottery or surfing in their off-time. Lawyer's aren't just people who sue and defend; they are also just people who happen to practice and have a passion for law (or money). The same with any career. And I think that it's good for the young'uns to see that.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 8:42 AM on February 16, 2006


I just can't believe how badly these kids draw as seventh graders.
posted by cheesebot at 9:04 AM on February 16, 2006


cheesebot: "I just can't believe how badly these kids draw as seventh graders."

I'm in.. er.. twentieth grade, and my drawings would be just about as good. Not everyone goes to Art Magnet Middle School.
posted by Plutor at 9:13 AM on February 16, 2006


I'm in.. er.. twentieth grade, and my drawings would be just about as good. Not everyone goes to Art Magnet Middle School.

Damn. I'm in 18th grade and my drawings suck too. I had thought that they would teach us about drawing in 19th or 20th grade though. That's what all the other kids were saying at least.
posted by epugachev at 10:00 AM on February 16, 2006


I've been thinking about this, perhaps too seriously, but I'm a bit concerned that this exercise further marginalizes the geeks among us. I mean, science has traditionally been the refuge of the socially inept, the fashion disasters, the generally unhygienic, the place where downtrodden nerds could hope to achieve a measure of greatness above those who persecuted them ... But instead of Fermilab's trying to undo the social stigma associated with those who place knowledge above trivial matters like personal hygiene, they've strengthened that stigma by arguing that real scientists aren't actually like those freaks. They're actually normal people with friends and fashion sense, thus pushing the truly geeky even further into social ostracization.
posted by bcveen at 3:26 PM on February 16, 2006


Don't worry bcveen - from the Cosmic Variance link to a BBC story:
The Science Learning Centre in London asked 11,000 pupils for their views on science and scientists. Around 70% of the 11-15 year olds questioned said they did not picture scientists as “normal young and attractive men and women”.
and:
They found around 80% of pupils thought scientists did "very important work".

posted by tellurian at 4:15 PM on February 16, 2006


Ok, this guy had a nice red coat and what looks like a cupcake. They stole the scientist's cupcake!! The woman he was replaced by has no coat or cupcake.

Makes me glad I'm an engineer. :)
posted by wildcrdj at 5:39 PM on February 16, 2006



posted by neckro23 at 9:47 PM on February 16, 2006


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