Welcome to my science blog. In a moment I'll explain the "Born to Do Science" mission, but first let me tell you a bit about myself.
My name is Monty Harper. I'm a children's songwriter. I've been writing and performing songs for kids professionally since 1993. I've recently become very interested in "The Public Understanding of Science."
I loved science as a kid. When I was little I thought I might become a scientist. I won my school science fair in 7th grade. But I got a bit disillusioned with science in high school and college in the 1980's. It seemed all the doable stuff was already done. Science knew all about electricity and magnetism, relativity, quantum mechanics, evolution, and DNA.
It seemed the only good questions left were the impossibly hard ones: "What came before the Big Bang?" or "How did life get started on Earth?" I believed that being a scientist meant teaching, plugging numbers into equations, or pondering the imponderable.
Boy was I was wrong, wrong, wrong about that!
Scientists have been very busy since then. Now we have the memrister, String Theory, evolutionary computation, and nanotechnology. We've sequenced the human genome, and we may be about to discover the Higgs Boson. The list goes on and on and on. It's totally mind blowing!
I think maybe it was the way science was taught that led me astray. We didn't learn to ask questions. Our textbooks presented the well-established facts. We repeated lab work and experiments that had been done a million times already. The results were completely predictable. You could read ahead in the lab book to find out what would happen. Any surprises had to be due to our own bungling!
Happily, my children's songwriting has brought me back to science in a very good way. I've been asked to write songs about outer space, dinosaurs, oceans, and insects. Researching these topics I found out just how much science had advanced since I gave up on it back in the 80's! Writing the songs has renewed my sense of wonder about the natural world.
So when my wife gave me an iPod Shuffle for Christmas a couple of years ago, one of the things I filled it with was science-related podcasts. I've been soaking it all up like a sponge! The pace of discovery these days is incredible! I love it! Every new story is fascinating to me, and all this input has been very inspirational to my songwriting self.
But the shear coolness of science, as huge as it is, doesn't quite get at the reason I'm starting this blog.
Many folks are alarmed at the current lack of respect for science in our public discourse. I often hear statements like, "We need to engage the public and get them excited about science, especially our young people!" And that's when my little heart goes pitter pat and my mental hand shoots up and I say in my head, "Me, me, me - I have something to offer here!"
Yes, public appreciation of science is vital to making the best public policy decisions. But there is also a deeper reason I'm interested in helping bring science to the masses. Science is the tool that allows us to collectively understand the universe we live in, including our own selves. It's arguably our greatest endeavor, our grandest adventure. Striving for knowledge is part of what it means to be human. Access to the scientific process is our birthright. We were born to do science!
My mission with this blog is to help make science fascinating and vital and cool and relevant to kids and families who might not otherwise give it a second thought. Sure, it's important to learn all the well-established science facts in school. But there's so much more to it than that. I want to put kids right out on the cutting edge where new science is happening now! I want to inspire them to think, to wonder, to ask questions, and to make science a permanent interest in their lives.
I'm not sure yet exactly what form this project will take. But plans are percolating. I know it will involve new songs. There may also be live events and conversations with actual scientists.
I'm glad you found me. Thanks for reading this. Please leave a comment. Please write to me if you have something to offer. Please tell your friends. Please be patient as I'm doing this with my "spare" time. And please stick around to see what happens!