PUSHING THE LIMITS FIRST INFORMATION WEBINAR Dan Rockmore (PI) and Marcelo Gleiser (Co-PI) Al Bennett (Co-PI) 1. Overview of the Project 2. Science Partners and Their Key Role 3. The Four Programs: Topics, Books and Science Science “Charms” Questions for Discussion Pedagogical Suggestions Further Reading 1. PROJECT OVERVIEW • WHAT IS “PUSHING THE LIMITS” Pushing the Limits is a project that aims to create enjoyable events (guided discussions) at your library, around interesting topics that have a science connection. The unifying theme is that each topic is presented in a context of how humankind has “pushed the limits” in each of these areas and the role that science has played in pushing that limit. • WHAT IS “PUSHING THE LIMITS” (cont.) Topics: Nature, Knowledge, Survival, Connection Ingredients: 1. 2. 3. 4. Leaders: Librarian and a Science Advocate Participants: adult patrons (of rural and small libraries) Book (popular fiction or historical non-fiction) Two Video Clips • Author interview • Human interest story (real people, real stories, real science) • WHAT IS “PUSHING THE LIMITS” (cont.) Some Goals: 1. Get new people exposed to science: “Lure” folks who are not necessarily interested in science to the library for a book club/like evening of conversation with their friends, and get them to have a positive experience thinking about and talking about ideas that have scientific connections. 2. Get patrons to see the human connections to science 3. Get patrons to see “real people” talking about science and science that probably is “relatable” (i.e., the science of the stories is relatable) and thus get them to see themselves as “scientists” 4. Help the libraries and librarians see themselves as “portals” for informal science education (“building capacity” for informal science education) 5. Help patrons see libraries as portals for informal science education 6. Create connections between the libraries and local science-knowledgeable people 7. Introduce patrons to science-knowledgeable people (sometimes “professional” scientists – “put a face on science”) 8. Actually teach a little science! – but this is a hoped for by-product, not a targeted goal 9. Inspire patrons and librarians to look more deeply at the science ideas in the evenings 10. Get people who don’t identify as science-interested to at least become “sciencefriendly” or “science-curious” • WHY IT MATTERS: A. For patrons: Science is everywhere! Science and scientific progress affects everyone! Medical decisions Social decisions Government resource allocation Employment possibilities Economic decisions Etc. (more?) We are all “scientists” in the way that we approach the world – it’s not an “us vs. them” paradigm B. For libraries and librarians: Libraries are places where folks go to find information – some of it scientific. If librarians are more comfortable as science conduits everyone benefits. WHY RURAL LIBRARIES FOR INFORMAL STEM EDUCATION? • In rural and small communities libraries are center for socializing and information gathering • Libraries are “non-threatening” venues • Libraries are connected to the internet • Rural communities are typically underexposed to science as compared to densely-populated urban centers • HOW DOES IT WORK We provide the materials: 1. Book (popular fiction or historical non-fiction) 2. Two Video Clips • Author interview • Human interest story (real people, real stories, real science) Evening: (Approx 75 – 90 minutes) 1. Brief intro to the program and the moderators (librarian and science advocate) ~ 5 minutes 2. Start a discussion on the topic, starting with the book, and moving as is natural (see our list of suggested questions per book/topic) ~ 10 minutes 3. Watch the author interview ~ 5 minutes 4. Discuss what the author said, both in and of itself and in the context of the book and topic (see our list of suggested questions per topic) ~ 15 minutes 5. Watch the human interest video – 10-15 minutes 6. Discuss the video, both in and of itself and in the context of the topic (see our list of suggested questions per topic) ~ 15 minutes 2. SCIENCE PARTNERS AND THEIR KEY ROLE 1. Partner with your librarian 2. Introduce and frame the events 3. Guide scientific conversations 3. Facilitate discussion – these are not lectures!! Think of these events as parties that you are co-hosting with your librarian partner A few thoughts on facilitating discussion: • • • • Pose questions designed for your audiences – make them relevant for your communities! Engage the audience – let them do the talking and ask questions. Keep the evening moving and on time – note that we have provided you with some example questions to help Answer questions when you can, but don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know” and to have resource to direct people – That said, it’s good to do some prep to try to anticipate science questions. We have provide a starter list of resources to that end. Science Partner resources for Arctic Drift (C. Cussler) and Survival AUVs: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autonomous_underwater_vehicle The actual NUMA: http://www.numa.net/ Ruthenium: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruthenium John Franklin’s expedition http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franklin%27s_lost_expedition Opening of the Northwest Passage http://news.discovery.com/earth/global-warming/northwest-passage-opening-faster-than-expected-120816.htm Photosynthesis: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g78utcLQrJ4 NYer article on swimming in frigid waters: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/04/21/080421fa_fact_cox NYer article on deep diving: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/08/24/090824fa_fact_wilkinson Science Partner resources for Land of Painted Caves (J. Auel) and Knowledge Human Ancestry: http://darwiniana.org/hominid.htm http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/hobbit/tree-nf.html Neanderthals: NOVA programs: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/evolution/decoding-neanderthals.html http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/neanderthals/ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paleolithic_religion New Yorker and Atlantic articles on Neanderthals: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/08/15/110815fa_fact_kolbert http://www.theatlanticwire.com/technology/2011/09/it-wasnt-just-neanderthals-ancient-humans-had-sex-other-hominids/42117/ Neanderthals vs. Cro-Magnon: http://www.history.com/videos/discovering-neanderthal#discovering-neanderthal Cave Paintings: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2012/06/120614-neanderthal-cave-paintings-spain-science-pike/ http://www.clickinks.com/all-about-cave-paintings.html Science Partner resources for Land of Painted Caves (J. Auel) and Knowledge (cont.) Science of Cooking: http://www.exploratorium.edu/cooking/ http://www.amazon.com/Science-Cooking-Peter-Barham/dp/3540674667 http://www.scienceofcooking.com Longevity of Seeds: http://5e.plantphys.net/article.php?ch=t&id=9 Sean’s Brock Restaurant: http://www.huskrestaurant.com/sean-brock-2/ http://www.foodandwine.com/articles/interview-sean-brock Knowledge/Information Transfer and Storage: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knowledge_transfer http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Information_storage Science Partner resources for Thunderstruck (E. Larson) and Connection Electromagnetic Waves: http://missionscience.nasa.gov/ems/01_intro.html Radio: Invention: http://inventors.about.com/od/rstartinventions/a/radio.htm How does it work: http://news.softpedia.com/news/How-Does-the-Radio-Work-75702.shtml Discovery of radio waves by Hertz: http://www.juliantrubin.com/bigten/hertzexperiment.html Titanic and Ocean Liners: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RMS_Titanic http://www.lastoceanliners.com Oliver Lodge: http://www.ieeeghn.org/wiki/index.php/Oliver_Lodge Marconi: http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/1909/marconi-bio.html Science Partner resources for Thunderstruck (E. Larson) and Connection (cont.) Adobe Architecture: http://architecture-sf2.nm-unlimited.net http://www.flickr.com/groups/adobearchitecture/ Roxanne Swentzell: http://www.roxanneswentzell.net http://www.swentzell.com http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CyPSmFt2Qj0 Science of Clay: http://classes.css.wsu.edu/soils201/Presentations/Lab%204%20Clay%20Minerals.pdf Science Partner resource When the Killing’s Done (T. C. Boyle) and Nature Food webs Build your own! http://www.gould.edu.au/foodwebs/kids_web.htm Food web gallery: http://www.foodwebs.org/ (and click on gallery) Some of the real story behind Anacapa: http://articles.latimes.com/2002/dec/15/local/me-ratman15 Today at Anacapa: http://www.nps.gov/chis/naturescience/restoring-anacapa-island-sea-bird-habitat.htm http://www.montroserestoration.gov/2012/12/17/anacapa-island-rat-removal-boostsseabird-populations/ 3. The Four Programs: Topics, Books and Science (Presentation order up to individual libraries) i. ii. iii. iv. Knowledge Connection Survival Nature THE FOUR PROGRAMS AND THEIR THEMES Theme 1: Knowledge Knowledge: How has humankind pushed the limits of knowledge? Book – “Clan of the Cave Bear,” Jean Auel Science Charms: Different kinds of knowledge, practical knowledge and book knowledge, Ayla’s knowledge as a means of survival, pushing the limits of mankind Human Interest Story – Sean Brock, master chef. Science Charms: using knowledge to push his limits as a chef, to push our limits as consumers of his food, to push the limits of the kinds of cuisine and foods that can be available, pushing limits in time (bringing back heritage foods), preserving knowledge, chemistry of the kitchen, any chef/cook is a scientist Knowledge 1. 2. Welcome The Land of Painted Caves, by Jean M. Auel 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Starter questions: Were folks able to read the book? (Give a very brief summary just to give a little context for those who didn’t read it). What did people think of it? Does it feel like life 10,000 years ago could have been like this? I was particularly struck by the descriptions and use of the cave paintings. What did you think of them? What did people think about the “great revelation” for Ayla was about the need for men for procreation? This book is part of our discussion of pushing the limits of knowledge. Does anyone have any thoughts about how it fits into that? Knowledge (continued) 3. Jean Auel interview 1. 2. 3. 4. Starter question: Were you surprised by how Auel comes across? What do you think about the idea of fiction or literature influencing science? Can you think of any instances where it has happened? Any thoughts on the differing theories of why Cro-Magnon “won” over the Neanderthals? Was it knowledge or just a simple numbers thing – more Cro-Magnons? Different types of memory? The ways of transmitting knowledge? All combined? What do you think of Auel’s theory of how memory influenced the outcome? Can we ever know events from the distant past completely? Knowledge (continued) 4. Human Interest video – Sean Brock – Master Chef 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Starter Question: What do we think about Sean Brock? Would you eat in his restaurants? Any thoughts on the notion of a kitchen as a “laboratory” and the chef as an experimenter? Is that how you feel in the kitchen? What do we think about the idea of food as knowledge? What kinds of food knowledge have been passed down in your own families? Any thoughts on the place of the tattoos in the story? Do you think cooking has changed/benefitted from technology? Should food be engineered or kept natural? Can technology help solve world hunger? THE FOUR PROGRAMS AND THEIR THEMES Theme 2: Connection Connection: How are we pushing the limits in the way we connect with each other? Book – “Thunderstruck,” Erik Larson Science Charms: Radio as a novel technology of connection; Theme of connection with those who are not present, perhaps not even alive!; how we use new technologies to connect with one another; what we mean by connection Human Interest Story – Roxanne Swentzel, potter, artist, and homebuilder. Science Charms: pushing the limits of what can done as a potter by using her connection to the past and in so doing, allowing others to connect to her past and building connections to the future (her children); using those connections to the past for building a home for her children, for connecting to the earth and her own home. Connection 1. 2. Welcome Thunderstruck, by Erik Larson 1. 2. 3. 4. Were folks able to read the book? (Give a very brief summary just to give a little context for those who didn’t read it). What did people think of it? Did you feel the book recreated well life at the beginning of the twentieth century? Marconi’s invention of the radio changed the world and the way people communicated with each other. Do you feel we are experiencing something comparable today? We’re reading Thunderstruck as part of our “pushing the limits” of Connection. In what ways does the book touch that theme? (possible answers: at the technological level - radio, at the emotional level - Crippen and his murder and his creepy ability to connect with others, and connection with the dead through Lodge and the séances). Connection (continued) 3. Eric Larson interview 1. 2. 3. 4. What do people think of Erik Larson? As you imagined him? Larson mentions how Marconi’s new technology undermined Crippen’s almost perfect crime. Is this a precursor of the CSI series—technology helping to solve crimes? Can you think of modern examples? How does this dovetail with the theme of connection? Oliver Lodge tried to study the supernatural with science. Do you think leading scientists would do this today? Connectivity and loneliness. Larson talks about texting his daughter and people with their iPhones. Do you see modern means of communication changing this in any way? Are we too connected? Connection (continued) 4. Human Interest video – Roxanne Swentzel – Artist & Builder 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Starter Question: What did you think of Roxanne and her family? Did you like her art? Any thoughts on the notion of the artist as an experimenter – finding materials, mixing them, creating structures with them? Do you see Roxanne work as a means of connecting the past and the future? Do you think Roxanne’s efforts to preserve past knowledge and use it in the present is relevant? Are there ways in which science forms a connection to the history of our community? Can you think of examples where science and art overlap? THE FOUR PROGRAMS AND THEIR THEMES Theme 3: Survival Survival: How humanity has used and uses its ingenuity to survive Book – “Arctic Drift,” Clive Cussler Science Charms: having to use science to push the limits of the kinds of environments that we can survive in; pushing the limits of our energy consumption and the ways in which we can derive energy Human Interest Story – The Shrum Family, farmers Science Charms: pushing their limits in the combine derby, pushing the limits of the machine and themselves, “farmer engineers,” being pushed to their limits by the demands of farming; survival of the family farm Survival 1. Welcome 2. Arctic Drift, by Clive Cussler 1. Starter questions: Were folks able to read the book? (Give a very brief summary just to give a little context for those who didn’t read it). What did people think of it? 2. Did aspects of it feel realistic? Did the technology seem realistic? What about the environmental fears? 3. Did anyone reflect on the multiple themes of survival? 4. Does science and technology come into play in a theme of survival in your life or your community’s life? Survival (continued) 3. Clive Cussler interview 1. Were you surprised by how Cussler came across on camera? 2. Can you think of any instances where fiction has “predicted” the future? 3. Were you surprised by the state of technology in Franklin’s time? 4. Do humans still push the limits of survival in exploration? Survival (continued) 4. Human Interest video – The Shrum Family 1. What did people think of the Shrums? 2. Does the “fix it” mentality resonate with anyone? Are most or any people “engineers” with their own equipment and technology? 3. Are there any aspects of our own lives and communities in which we may need to “push the limits” in order to survive? 4. Are other kinds of professions engaged in a battle for “survival”? 5. Doe anyone here engage in a form of recreation that has a “survival” aspect to it? Does that depend on technology? THE FOUR PROGRAMS AND THEIR THEMES Theme 4: Nature Nature: pushing the limits of what is “natural” Book – “When the Killing’s Done,” T. C. Boyle Science Charms: what are “indigenous species”? Notion of chance in that; to what extent can we control Nature? Human Interest Story – Cameron Clapp, handicapped athlete Science Charms: pushing the limits of how we define human; marriage of technology and medicine to improve quality of life Nature 1. 2. Welcome When the Killing’s Done, by T. C. Boyle 1. 2. 3. 4. Starter questions: Were folks able to read the book? (Give a very brief summary just to give a little context for those who didn’t read it - Might be useful to make the point of the paired heroines, each of whom thinks they are doing the right thing with respect to protecting nature.). What did people think of it? Has our community faced similar issues? (This may or may not be appropriate and/or sensitive – follow your instinct as to whether or not it is a good question) Any thoughts on what kinds of comments were being made on the question of “what is natural”? What is a “natural environment?” Were either of the heroes/heroines in the right? Nature (continued) 3. T. C. Boyle interview 1. Were you surprised by how Boyle came across on camera? 2. Were the rats on the islands “naturally”? 3. What is a “natural state”? Does chance play a role? 4. Does it seem possible to “engineer nature”? Does it even make sense? 5. Humans are a part of nature, are their actions part of the natural events that shape an ecology? 6. How do humans fit into the idea of balance in nature? Nature (continued) 4. Human Interest video – Cameron Clapp’s Story 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. What did people think of Cameron? Do you think that risk-taking is part of one’s nature? What did people think of Cameron’s prosthetics? Does anyone here know people who use prosthetics? How do they compare? Any thoughts on the kinds of technologies and understandings that need to be incorporated into the development of these new prosthetics? Have people heard about the new uses of brainwaves to drive prosthetics? Have people heard of the debates in athletics about whether or not those with prosthetics should be allowed to compete with “natural” athletes? Can these prosthetics be thought of as improvements? What about steroids and athletes? Where do we draw the line between “natural” and “scienceassisted”?