The “Science and Engineering” Cheerleader?

Thanks, Bart, for letting me know about this clever video. Future engineers!

Speaking of engineers, a friend who works at the National Academy of Engineering suggested I ammend the title of Science Cheerleader and Science Debate to include the word “Engineering” because “science and engineering are not one-and-the-same” and many of the issues I address are, in fact, engineering matters. Although I’m not planning to change my name, I am making a point of singling out intelligent cheerleaders right here on ScienceCheerleader.com.

But I digress. Here’s a persuasive argument on behalf of engineers: Want to Engineer Real Change? Don’t Ask a Scientist. 

(Reprinted with author Henry Petroski’s permission.)

Sunday, January 25, 2009; B04

“We will restore science to its rightful place,” President Obama declared in his inaugural address. That certainly sounds like a worthy goal. But frankly, it has me worried. If we want to “harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories,” as Obama has decreed, we shouldn’t look to science. What we need is engineering.
To be fair, Obama’s misconception is a common one. Most people who aren’t scientists or engineers seem to think that science and engineering are the same. They’re not. Science seeks to understand the world as it is; only engineering can change it.
That’s not what most high-school teachers or even college professors tell their science students. But the truth is that full scientific understanding isn’t always necessary for technological advancement. Read full story.

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  • Pat McAtee

    Hi Darlene:

    I read about you in Chemical and Engineering
    News.

    Although I have been involved in scientific, particularly medical, research for some time, I have enjoyed the presentation
    and teaching aspect of science. In the process of becoming a pretty fair girls basketball coach, I learned that confidence is everything and if you truly believe in yourself, you can probably do anything your heart desires. Even “marginal” players can become inspired and make a difference.

    I remember telling a group, “…If your teacher told you that you were an idiot, would you go home and try and learn as much as you can about that class, no way…If your coach is always berating you, are you going to come to practice or a game ready
    to go ? no way. However, if I challenge you and develop you in a
    positive way, you’re going to leave practice thinking that this was the best 2 hours of your life and you’re going to want to go right home and practice more.
    A good coach is a good teacher and a good teacher is a good coach…”

    Science has become elitist and a clique. People in our educational system are developed into being nonteam players. For this and other reasons, “average” people tune it out. I started substitute teaching for AP classes at a prep school in NJ awhile back.
    The kids were more or less unruly and didn’t want to be there. The
    chemistry classes were studying refining and distillation and were completely bored.
    I changed the example from oil to making moonshine and they were captivated. For the biology group, instead of memorizing DNA structures and bacteria, I put their chairs in a circle and we created a biotechnology company with me in the middle as the moderator. Class was conducted by the Socratic Method. I had kids who were detention regulars shaking my hand and even got a hug at the end of one of the sessions. Learning science
    was fun again !
    I told one group of typical guys in a class ” Do you realize that Louis Pasteur would be in jail today for some of the things he did ?” They thought that was cool. I have always said that a remake on Pasteur would make a great movie (similar to Good Will Hunting) and Robin Williams would be phenomenal in the lead role. I’d love to write the script . Did you know that Pasteur was an outstanding artist and cook as well ?

    What you are doing is wonderful and long overdue. If there is any way that I can contribute to your success,please let me know.

    Cheers,

    Pat McAtee

  • Pat McAtee

    Hi Darlene:

    I read about you in Chemical and Engineering
    News.

    Although I have been involved in scientific, particularly medical, research for some time, I have enjoyed the presentation
    and teaching aspect of science. In the process of becoming a pretty fair girls basketball coach, I learned that confidence is everything and if you truly believe in yourself, you can probably do anything your heart desires. Even “marginal” players can become inspired and make a difference.

    I remember telling a group, “…If your teacher told you that you were an idiot, would you go home and try and learn as much as you can about that class, no way…If your coach is always berating you, are you going to come to practice or a game ready
    to go ? no way. However, if I challenge you and develop you in a
    positive way, you’re going to leave practice thinking that this was the best 2 hours of your life and you’re going to want to go right home and practice more.
    A good coach is a good teacher and a good teacher is a good coach…”

    Science has become elitist and a clique. People in our educational system are developed into being nonteam players. For this and other reasons, “average” people tune it out. I started substitute teaching for AP classes at a prep school in NJ awhile back.
    The kids were more or less unruly and didn’t want to be there. The
    chemistry classes were studying refining and distillation and were completely bored.
    I changed the example from oil to making moonshine and they were captivated. For the biology group, instead of memorizing DNA structures and bacteria, I put their chairs in a circle and we created a biotechnology company with me in the middle as the moderator. Class was conducted by the Socratic Method. I had kids who were detention regulars shaking my hand and even got a hug at the end of one of the sessions. Learning science
    was fun again !
    I told one group of typical guys in a class ” Do you realize that Louis Pasteur would be in jail today for some of the things he did ?” They thought that was cool. I have always said that a remake on Pasteur would make a great movie (similar to Good Will Hunting) and Robin Williams would be phenomenal in the lead role. I’d love to write the script . Did you know that Pasteur was an outstanding artist and cook as well ?

    What you are doing is wonderful and long overdue. If there is any way that I can contribute to your success,please let me know.

    Cheers,

    Pat McAtee

  • Richard

    Ms. Cavalier,

    I just read of your work and website … sounds and looks great ! I am a retired Ph.D. organic chemist and would like to contribute to your work where and when I am able. I have always felt that a large percentage of Americans suffer from “scientific illiteracy” and your project should go a long way towards alleviating this deficiency.

    Richard D. Stacy

  • Richard

    Ms. Cavalier,

    I just read of your work and website … sounds and looks great ! I am a retired Ph.D. organic chemist and would like to contribute to your work where and when I am able. I have always felt that a large percentage of Americans suffer from “scientific illiteracy” and your project should go a long way towards alleviating this deficiency.

    Richard D. Stacy