I recently was invited to Atlantic High School in Port Orange, FL to be a part of a monthly event called Lunch with a Scientist. This event is an opportunity for students to meet professionals in science related fields, learn about what they do and the path that brought them there. It is called Lunch with a Scientist because it is a voluntary event held during their lunch hour. Stacey Bell, an aquaculture, environmental, and marine sciences (AEMS) teacher, established this event through the numerous contacts she made throughout her career as a field biologist and environmentalist. Dawn Alves, a science coach at Atlantic High school, says "Lunch with a Scientist was created to allow student exposure to various scientist working in the field, gain real world experiences, understand college tracks and readiness, and to promote interest in pursuing science beyond high school. The goal is to get as much diversity as possible."
Atlantic High Schools is evolving into a wall-to-wall academy structure meaning they are offering various tracks that focus on a specialty, similar to a college major, which allow students to explore and get a jump start on their career path. Just as difficult as it may be to choose a college major, it is even more difficult for high school students to determine the path they want to take. Hence, Lunch with a Scientist is a great opportunity for student to see the assortment of science related fields that exist. Even more so, it is an opportunity for students to meet the people that work in these fields. All too often, when high school students hear the word ‘scientist’ they think of an older gentleman with a beard and glasses wearing a lab coat and peering through a microscope. Even though this may describe many professionals, this is only a small demographic, and I helped to break that stereotype.
So what did I talk about? I gave a presentation on human factors (HF) engineering and the path that led me to a career in this field. Students were very interested when I told them that HF can be applied anywhere there is a human. They were also interested in what my life was outside of work, because another misconception is that work consumes your life, but if you enjoy what you do, then the boundary between work and life can get blurred. I explained how much I travel for business and leisure, all of the sports and activities I am involved with, and how I try to combine them with work so that I can get paid to learn more about the things that interest me, while simultaneously contributing to the field. I also made it a point to explain that if they start today, they could get their college tuition completely paid for through various scholarships, assistantships, stipends, etc. I also strongly emphasized the importance of meeting people in the field and establishing a working relationship early because who you know can sometimes be more valuable than what you know. The push for science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) efforts is growing stronger and it is our duty to help shape posterity and Lunch with a Scientist is a chance to change the lives of those who will be running the country and taking care of us when we get old. We at QIC are doing our part, now it’s time for you all to join.
If you are interested in participating in this event or other related events, please contact Dawn Alves: Phone: 386-322-6100 extension 38155, email: firstname.lastname@example.org