It turns out that a really great way of passing the time when listening to someone give a talk is to do some sketch practice. [... wait, what? The post title? Oh! No, no, don't be silly. Ok., let me continue ...] If the subject matter is right, it’s a good thing to do while you focus on what’s being said. This last couple of days I’ve been in Aspen, Colorado, and I’m starting out my visit here with a three day conference entitled “Becoming Engaged: Initiatives That Can Change Science Education”. You can see more about it on a dedicated website hosted by ICAM. One of the people behind it is David Pines, and we’ve had many conversations about science outreach and science education over the years, and so he invited me to participate. I’m supposed to be here at Aspen for my visit to the Aspen Center for Physics, and so I’m only partially attending, opting to to listen to some talks, and take part in some discussions… then going back over to the center to hear some LHC and Higgs chatter on the LHC workshop that is starting up this week.
There are a lot of interesting people talking about science education, and science outreach, many describing their various approaches and projects in short talks and presentations. (I will tell you about some of them in future posts.) It is great to meet several people who are passionate about outreach too, and see what others are up to and share ideas… so this is a valuable time. Hopefully, some action ideas will come of this meeting that will help make a difference.
At the very least, I think (as do others) that if we just find a way to let the various people doing science outreach to know about each other’s efforts in a useful, searchable way – perhaps with a well-maintained database – that would be a tremendous benefit. That way, people can connect and share experience if they want to, or just feel part of a community working toward a common goal… There have been some systems put together that have tried to do that before, I understand, but it is not clear to many that they have had the impact one would hope for…
Anyway, so while some talks were on today, I got a bit of much needed sketching practice done (in service of one of my own outreach projects, remember). Turns out when there is no technical content I’m trying to absorb, sketching is a nice thing to do while listening, with no real distraction… None of them are particularly accurate portraits, as they were quick and the people were moving a lot, but I feel like they are sort of real-person-looking. Hey, my standards are not lofty.