So a few weeks ago, I attended a talk by Dr. Sally Ride, who really did grow up to become an astronaut.  It was pretty cool.  She brought pictures.

 

Oh, who am I kidding?  It was freaking awesome.  I got to shake her hand and everything!  Anyway, it turns out that she’s trying to get science back into schools, whose focus on testing and accountability all too often means that everything but the three Rs falls by the wayside.  Everyone is for accountability; but, from what I hear, there are schools that never do anything else anymore, and whose kids spend their days in endless, wearying circles of nothing but grammar and math.  We, as a nation, could use a lot more grammar and math instruction, it is true–but lots of kids hate math, which they don’t see the point of. Hell, I hated math as a kid, and I ended up in a math-heavy major and career. 

 

Which, it’s hard to blame kids.  Math up through, say, geometry tends to be really boring: lots of memorizing times tables and solving for x, none of the beauty of calculus or topology or Euler’s Theorem.  It’s not really math’s fault, that you have to do the boring prep work before you get to the cool stuff–in fact, it’s probably excellent training for real life–but it’s as if you spent ten school years doing nothing but spelling drills and diagramming sentences before you were ever allowed to read a book.

 

Enter science, which makes abstract math concrete.  Imagine: the same sequence of numbers governs everything from how many seeds a sunflower has to how a nautilus shell grows.  Plus, it’s fun!  But science is hard to teach: not everyone has training, not everyone has funding, not everyone has classroom time.

 

So Dr. Ride’s new project aims to get science back in the classroom–by training teachers, and by making it fun again.  Check out https://sallyridescience.com/ . (Warning: Annoying pop-up person. Turn off the sound before visiting.)