So ... just who is this Mama Joules? What makes her qualified to write a blog about learning to like science anyway?
When I was a freshman in high school, my entrance scores qualified me to enroll in both Basic Biology and Earth Sciences, a course of study that my adviser chose for me. I thought that my adviser was insane. I had to take two science classes? At the same time? Quickly, I withdrew from my optional Earth Sciences class and settled in to hating Biology.
I disliked both years of high school Biology, with the notable exception of my bean plant experiment. I had to design and implement that study myself. I was crazy about the author Madeleine L'Engle and, in one of her books, she describes a study in which plants were shown to have feelings (To this day, I'm not sure whether she made that up or not; I should look into that someday). So, I decided that I would try her character Calvin's experiment and grow bean plants. I would ignore one set of bean plants, talk kindly to the second set, and scream at the third. My theory was that the plants I loved, the ones I talked nicely to, would outgrow the others. I thought that the ones I ignored would grow normally. And the ones that I yelled at would shrivel up and die, right? Wrong.
First of all, I should never have tried to germinate plants in the dead of winter. Many of my seedling containers grew not beans, but mold. My Biology teacher kindly loaned me a heat lamp and a few of my plants finally sprouted. Which ones grew best? The ones I yelled at. I had to scrap my first theory. Maybe all of that yelling helped my plants to grow by giving them more carbon dioxide.
But I still didn't like science. In my junior year of high school, I did well in Chemistry solely because of my teacher. Maybe he had a great teaching style, I don't really remember. I only remember his arms. That man had the highly chiseled forearms of a Greek god. Watching his arms naturally led to me to read what he wrote on the board, which must have translated into learning.
Unfortunately, Mr. Greek god-arms left after my Junior year. We had a brand-new science teacher for my Senior year, when I took Physics. (I still don't like Physics). I did terribly in this class, as did many of my classmates.
So, when it came to college, I ignored my father's advice to major in math or science and chose Journalism. Well, that lasted for three semesters. You know what? I got bored. I had no science in my life and I missed it. Imagine that!
Well, I can't say I that had no science in my life during that time. I did take one required science course -- I chose Environmental Sciences for Non-Science Majors. I aced that class. It reminded me of all of the things that I loved -- parks, green space, recycling, saving the planet. I was hooked.
I spent my fourth semester of college with one foot in Journalism and one in Biology. After that, I never looked back. I was so far behind in my required science coursework that I went from no science courses to having to pile them on. I really wanted to graduate on time. One semester, I had nothing but science classes! My grades dropped, but I was challenged. I hung in there and finally graduated -- a semester late -- with my Bachelor's degree in the Biological Sciences.
Since then, I've worked both testing animal blood and investigating hazardous waste sites. I've earned a Master's of Environmental Management degree, had three children, and started writing freelance articles (and a blog) about science. In a strange way, that takes me back full circle to when I was a Journalism major.
Except that now, I don't hate science.
[Updated 10/22/09 -- Changed "two children" to three. Sorry it took me so long, Baby Princess!]