Man of Random Science: The Power of Performance
Happy Monday, everyone! Unfortunately, I have fallen victim to whatever bug has been going around the Midwest for the last month or two. I'm not dead on my feet by any means but my voice is not exactly ready for prime time. Today, then, instead I'm going to write a short entry about why we do what we do.
I already answered the question "Why Science?" in a previous post. Today I'm going to try to answer the question "Why science shows?" In other words, why do Aaron and I perform science on stage? What do we get out of it?
Well, the simplest, most selfish answer is that it's a ton of fun. But that's only a minor, proximate reason. The ultimate reason is captured best in this picture right here:
This picture was taken after the show we feature on our Performances page during the summer of 2013.
We spent probably an hour after the show autographing pictures for dozens of families out of the roughly 500 people who packed the 750-person Bing Crosby Theater for the show. After the autograph line had subsided this little lady and her family were waiting for the chance to ask for a personalized picture with the two of us. She had come to the show in her lab coat because she was so excited to see what we were doing.
Got that? She came to our science show and cosplayed a scientist.
She also told us that she wanted to be a scientist after having seen our show. Which was far from the only time that happened. My favorite story is a family that ran into both of us on multiple occasions, sometimes together, sometimes separate, that also attended that same show. They had become familiar with us through our work at the Mobius Science Center and followed our shows through the Spokane County Libraries with the fervor of Deadheads. They had their birthday parties at the science center (which included a personal show) and, every chance they got, had their pictures taken with us.
One day they ran into me as I was out and about town and struck up a conversation. They, of course, snapped another picture and I thought to ask them what they did with all of them. Turns out that they had a wall in their house where they put shots of us, newsclippings, pictures they took of the coolest experiments in our shows, and so forth. The two young boys, maybe 10 and 7, had become obsessed with science since they had first discovered us. Aaron was, at the time, writing a monthly science column for a magazine in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, just across the state line from us in Spokane. Each column contained a hands-on experiment and the family had done every single one of them and filled the intervening time with hands-on experiments they found online. Dad was an engineer, so they were in good hands, and both kids, of course, wanted to go into science when they grew up.
I don't want you to think that we're out there to create a generation of kids who all grow up to be scientists or engineers. If nothing else, that would create a totally unsustainable economic situation. And chances are most of the kids who've told us we made them want to be scientists won't become scientists when they're grown up. And that's perfectly okay. The world needs all kinds and people need to do what makes them happy. What we want, and what our shows give us to ability to achieve, is to foster a love of science in others that's as strong as our own.
In "Why Science?" I said that my favorite thing about science is that it allows me to think like a scientist, to see the universe for what it is as best I can. We love going up on stage and bringing science to life in a fun, exciting way because we want other people to have that same passion to continue learning about the world around us. An appreciation for science and scientific thought will benefit everyone, whether they're a PhD entomologist, a plumber, or the president of a small island nation.
We do science shows because it's the best way we know how to create a better world.