Hi, I’m Lette. I’m a senior (fresh/soph/jr.) with a major in Biology and a minor in Chemistry…
If I had a penny for every time I’ve said that, well, I’d have a lot of pennies. I’m not quite your typical Biology major though. If we’re being completely honest, there are times I still cringe when I say it. Yes, there are times when I pride myself in the fact that I’m smart enough and capable enough to get through difficult Bio classes. After all, us Honor’s students can do anything we set our minds to, right? But more often, I feel the need to qualify that statement. Often I feel like an imposter, needing explain that I’m not a “real” Bio major, that that there’s more to me and my story than studying metabolic pathways, growing cells, and mixing chemicals.
That is why my heart sank a little bit when I read the requirements for Honor’s Work in the Major (HWM). I don’t love research, and I especially do not love laboratory research. I knew that I theoretically could pick up a lab project, I could research some hot button topic in scientific journals, or I could dig deeper into something in Genetics that we didn’t have time to fully cover. I knew I was capable, but I also know my heart wouldn’t be in it. It was going to become something else to put on the never-ending list of tasks to do, feeding yet another facet of my achievement oriented, hour-by-hour scheduling personality.
So. I decided to take a risk. Instead of researching the details, I decided to return to the fundamentals. At Dr. Carlson’s suggestion, I set off on an endeavor to host a science fair for middle school students. My face lit up the moment he suggested it in our advising session. That was something I could be excited about; something I would want to do rather than have to do. This collaboration of Education and Biology/Science was “just my cup of tea,” to borrow the phrase. Dr. Mattson graciously listened to my ideas and helped me formulate a proposal. The initial planning steps were taken last fall, some even from another continent (as I studied in Ecuador) and have been in full swing this Spring 2014 semester. I looked up articles written by and for teachers, I called schools, I made mini lesson plans, and I recruited other students to help lead. The Fair is taking place this Friday, May 2. It’s actually happening. We have 36 diverse 6th-8th graders coming from Mater’s Academy and Daystar Christian School in Chicago. The students are coming to campus; they are going to see college, see a collegiate level science building, work in labs, and see that science is both fun and accessible. They will meet current science majors and attend hands-on sessions on Biology, Ecology, Chemistry, and Physics. They will get a glimpse of potential careers with majors in the sciences, and hopefully, they will get a glimpse of God’s beautiful, detailed handiwork as displayed in science. This is something I can be passionate about.
A few weeks ago I shared my plans and progress at the VanderVelde scholarship student research dinner. To be honest, I was nervous to attend. I again felt like an imposter, inadequate. “My research isn’t like everyone else’s, they’re expecting something “smarter,” they won’t understand, I’m going to look foolish….” However, rather than leaving discouraged, I left more encouraged than ever before. I met professors who were interested in my ideas and excited to see them come to life. I met other students who were genuinely intrigued. And most importantly, I found myself speaking passionately about my project. I found myself proud of and excited to share my work. I found myself loving this collegiate culture, and greatly anticipating May 2.
And so in this week I find myself sending confirmation emails, making copies, and pulling together last minute details. The students are coming, and I cannot wait to meet them. There are a lot of things in this life that I love. Laboratory research is not one of them. Kids are, though. And science as a whole is, too. Something that good is worth being shared.
And so I present to you: 2014 Jr. Trolls Science Fair: When Science is Shared.
To God be the Glory.