I was just talking to Chuck Berry, leader of the South Dakota Hub, and I heard all about the GREAT Year of Science events the hub organized. I want to share a few of these with you - hopefully you’ll be as inspired as I am as we kick off 2010!
Chuck is a Professor at South Dakota State University, and he and his colleagues organized not one, not two, but THREE university courses that were centered on the Year of Science. There was a course on Science Journalism, and it focused on the role of the media in the public understanding of science. This course was such a success it will be taught again next year! Another course was taught in the Honors College, and it focused on the public understanding of climate change. The students read Thomas Friedman’s book, Hot, Flat, and Crowded. The most inspiring course, I think, was at the University Center Lifelong Learning Institute. The class was made up of, as Chuck says, “a few dozen older folks.” I think it’s fantastic that the course was aimed at a non-standard audience! Says Chuck, “when you’re getting it out to the non-students, that’s when you’re really making hay, in the way the Year of Science was intended.”
Continuing on the theme of bringing science to non-students, the SDSU Film Society screened four science films throughout the year - the audience, Chuck says, is mostly non-university people. One of the films, called A Sense of Wonder, was a documentary about Rachel Carson. And, says Chuck, “the words she said were right out of the Year of Science.” The films were very well received, and the film society will continue to screen science films in the future.
The South Dakota Hub consists of about 20 organizations - universities, museums, and outdoor education centers. Of course, they had many more events than I can fit in this blog post! Check out the South Dakota Hub Page (coming soon) to learn more about their YoS events. Also, Chuck wrote a paper about the Year of Science, and it will be published in The Proceedings of the South Dakota Academy of Sciences in April - we will make the paper available to you when it is published!
South Dakota will be sending a contingent from the Sanford Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory to the USA Science and Engineering Festival in Washington, DC in October 2010. (A few quick words on the Sanford Underground Lab - an old gold mine, over 2 feet deep, is being converted into a physics lab, so scientists can do experiments without the pesky interference of radiation and particles from outer space. Is that cool or what?) Chuck would like to host Satellite Events in South Dakota, in conjunction with the USA Science and Engineering Festival.
One last thing: during our conversation, Chuck mentioned that he’d hoped to involve industry in the Year of Science, but was relatively unsuccessful. I agree that industry has a lot to offer. If your hub has involved corporations or industry, we would love to hear how you’ve encouraged those relationships. Please leave a comment here on the blog, or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.