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12 March 2018

Improving the interview-a-scientist assignment

Nearly every scientist who’s active on social media or blogging gets requests from students to answer questions for interview-a-scientist assignments. Now, I love theĀ intentĀ of these assignments, which is to get students excited about a science topic by connecting them with an actual living, breathing scientists. However, the execution can be a problem for the scientists.


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6 February 2012

This is what a geologist looks like

Recently there’s been activity on Twitter (#Iamscience) and Tumblr (the “This is what a scientist looks like” blog) with a simple message: Scientists are people too! (And boy, do we have some fun hobbies.)

I think these efforts are really important right now. In my opinion, one of the big problems with the anti-science attitude in this country is that people seem to think that scientists are aloof and unapproachable by anyone who isn’t a scientist. We’ve somehow acquired the image of being brainy but secretive folks who closet themselves in their labs with mysterious research, out of touch with the “real” world and unable to relate to non-scientists. Well, nothing could be further from the truth! Scientists, including geologists, are people who take their jobs just as seriously as anyone else, but we also have lives outside of science – and we do some pretty interesting things. My work as a volcanologist certainly defines a key part of who I am, but it’s not the only part of my life that matters.


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8 February 2011

Volcano analogies for kids

I just had a great time talking with a first-grade class about volcanoes this afternoon – something that I love to do with kids of any age (and those who never really grow up, too). They came up with excellent, insightful questions about volcanoes and volcanic processes, and I was definitely kept on my toes when it came to answering. In fact, I definitely find it more challenging to talk to kids about geology than I do to adults, because kids are still learning about the world around them – they don’t necessarily have the background knowledge that an adult would, so I have to choose carefully how to explain things. It’s not a matter of “dumbing down” my answers at all, but a matter of putting them into context. This is where geologic analogies come into play.


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13 October 2008

Happy Earth Science Week!

I’m a day late, but only because I was visiting Niagara Falls yesterday with my dad – and if that doesn’t fit with this year’s theme (“No Child Left Inside”), I don’t know what does. See the Earth science? See it? Earth Science Week is a yearly outreach campaign run by the American Geological Institute (the people who publish Geotimes-now-Earth-Magazine, run GeoRef, and represent more than 44 other geoscience organizations …


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29 January 2008

The Union’s State is: Strong

It’s that time again! Yes, the annual ritual of the State of the Union address, which could be viewed as a time-honored tradition (wherein the President has an opportunity to speak frankly with the nation about its present and future), with utter disgust (since it wastes valuable airtime that could be devoted to the new “American Idol”), as an opportunity for a really hardcore drinking game (“freedom” is a suggested …


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