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Back to School Time — Hooray!

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It’s August, which means that the first school bell of the year is coming soon. And huge secret here I’m looking forward to it!

As a student, I was not excited by the prospect of yet another year in classrooms (even though there’s very few things that can trump the smell of a new box of crayons). But, as a teacher, I really like doing my job. I like working at something that’s challenging and interesting and constantly changing. A lot of my teacher-friends groan about the new school year and how the end of summer is drawing to a close, but I know that they’re secretly counting down the days to a new batch of kids in their classrooms.

But what makes us do it? For me, it was a matter of finding what made me tick. I truly love teaching, and am glad I found it. A few years ago, I realized that everybody remembers taking high school chemistry, and that they had a fantastic or terrible teacher (somehow, there’s no middle ground). But most of all, they remember the experiments and explosions that teacher did. I get to be that teacher! (and hopefully I am on the higher end of the teacher-rating scale than the awful side.)

So, what makes other people work at what they do? What was the story that got them into their eventual careers?

At The Origins Project, hosted by Arizona State University, a panel of mostly-science-related speakers told stories of how they got into their respective fields. I was slightly disappointed that they didn’t talk more about how to tell the stories in science, but the stories are also fascinating because of how well they’re told. Here’s the approximate times for each speaker, in case you’d like to skip to certain people:

9:00 min — Lawrence Krauss, physicist, cosmologist, and host of the panel
15:17 — Tracy Day, journalist and co-founder of the World Science Festival
23:30 — Brian Greene, of The Elegant Universe fame
33:50 — Ira Flatow, host of Newton’s Apple when I was a kid and Science Friday on NPR now
40:35 — Neil deGrasse Tyson (I don’t really have to introduce him, right?)
55:20 — Richard Dawkins, evolutionary biologist
1:05:35 — Bill Nye (another man who needs no introduction)
1:15:10 — Neal Stephenson, sci-fi author

For what it’s worth, I really enjoyed Ira Flatow, Dr. Tyson (of course), and Neal Stephenson’s stories.

What gets you up in the morning, and how do you tell it so that others want to know more?


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