This Mobile 'Think Tank' Will Give Science Experiments Street Cred
Before I tell you why you should fund a lab-on-wheels called The Think Tank, I want to tell you a tale of two mysteries. Mystery one: Why I didn’t become a scientist. Mystery two: Why I did become a scientist.
From my father to my great-great-Ukrainian grandfather, I come from a long line of New York detectives. As a child I aspired to continue the family tradition, but way, less Bogart than Boyle: I wanted to be a scientific detective. My mother would have to pry my nose out of soy sauce-stained books on Stegosauri whenever we went out for Chinese.
But ten years later, I hated science. You probably did too. As you and I climbed mountains of scientific facts for multiple choice tests, we imagined that the only folks who could do this for a living must be people with pocket protectors and sad, sterile lives. So, we did not become scientists.
But now, I study the mind and brain—as a scientist. I became scientist because I was eventually taught what science is truly like by meeting scientists, and by doing science.
What kinds of people are scientists? My fellow researchers are opera singers, artists, filmmakers, and rock musicians. But they have one strand in common: curiosity. What’s abuzz in my brain when I learn? Does hand sanitizer actually work? Why do some grassroots campaigns succeed while others fail? They have questions they want answered so badly, that they’ll use any tool available to get the best answers. It’s not about facts and figures, but the figuring.
There is a new wave of process-promoting educators who realize this. Perception researcher, Beau Lotto, recently guided a classroom of 10-year-olds from brainstorming, to experimenting, and finally to an overwhelmingly student-driven publication in a peer-reviewed journal. Proposals for experiential science education have made New York Times headlines. My STEM initiative, a lab-on-wheels dubbed 'The Think Tank,' will join this new wave by delivering experiential education through a science we all have a stake in: the science of the mind.
The Think Tank is a collaboration between artists, scientists from my lab, and over 100 citizen backers. Together we will transform a recycled box truck into a literal and metaphorical vehicle geared toward engaging the public with behavioral and brain science.
It will arrive with a movement of people realizing that the behavioral and brain sciences stand to improve lives. Public servants like scientist/policy-maker Dr. Pooja Agarwal are using cognitive science research to improve classrooms. The Obama administration is considering a multi-billion dollar investment in building a map of the brain. The Think Tank will bring this movement to the public. Similar to the American Museum of Natural History’s “Mobile Museums,” The Think Tank will:
- Drive to elementary and high schools where mobile researchers will teach students about cognitive science by having them plan their own experiments, and carry them out aboard the vehicle.
- Invite citizens aboard to participate in actual studies and teach them how cognitive science can improve their lives.
- Collaborate with world-renowned psychologists and neuroscientists to deliver sidewalk talks, taking the public on their explorations into human thought and behavior.
In doing so, The Think Tank will spread literacy not only for cognitive science, but the scientific process in general. So far, we’ve been lucky enough to receive $10,000 in grant money, and we’ve gotten backing from CUNY’s Macaulay Honors College, the Goldsmith Scholars program, and 100+ citizen donors. However, all donations will be returned if my team cannot raise the remainder before March 13. Thus, I’m putting out this appeal to the GOOD community for help.
If you're a STEM advocate, brain geek, or supporter of experiential education, please share and donate to our fundraiser page before the March 13 deadline.
Should Society Fund Mindfulness? Putting taxpayer money toward meditation programs? It’s not as crazy as you might think.
Syrian Refugee Women Learn Self-Defense with Predictably Badass Results Two Arab-American women hope to empower Syrian women fleeing their home country’s conflict with physical training and emotional healing.
Achilles’ Password: Online Security’s Susceptible Straggler These new technologies promise to make your vulnerable passwords obsolete.
Guess Which Wealthy Country Can't Guarantee Access to a Basic Human Need? This week, Detroit's neediest had their water turned off. Here's what you can do about it.
If More Couples Smoked Weed, Would There Be Less Domestic Violence? Spouses who smoke weed are less likely to inflict physical, sexual, or psychological harm on their significant other.
Better Living Through Science: Women in STEM A look at pioneering women in fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
How You Type Says a Ton About Your Emotional State This new computer program can see right through your poker face.
Let’s Do More. A Call-to Action by Gap CMO Seth Farbman Data shows that 24% of the 21 million Americans making minimum wage are working in retail, and 64% of those are women.
Meet the Self-Proclaimed President of Colombia’s Hottest Music Trend Champeta started as an outsider Afro-Colombian folk movement. Now it's taking over the country.
Cryptocurrency Regains its Reputation in Paradise Can a renowned tourist hub in Bali become a bitcoin wonderland?
Can a Miracle Fruit Overcome its Unsavory Reputation? Conservationists, farmers, and nutritionists are singing the praises of the breadfruit. If only it didn't taste so bad.
New App Could Tackle Hunger, Will Help You Find a Good Deal PareUp wants to connect food purveyors to thrifty consumers looking to score deals on unused, but still edible, items.