Written by Paul Sutter on Monday, 30 May 2016. Posted in From The Desk of...The Chief Scientist

Recently I was invited - via the ever-keen Susan Brehm - to be the keynote speaker at the AEP Credits Count conference. The Credits Count program channels STEM-leaning kids in rural area into college classes earlier than usual, which is pretty neat. The attendees were a mix of high school teachers, principles, community college reps, and other academic-types. As they munched on their fancy grilled cheese sandwiches, I got up and started talking about science.

Specifically, growing into science. Last summer I curated the @realscientists twitter handle, and using that platform I launched a brief hashtag campaign: tell your #MyScienceStory. In other words, what was your spark? The campaign was a huge hit, and for one random Thursday night last August, @realscientists was the second-most popular account in the world, beating Donald Trump but losing to Khloe Kardashian.

Thousands of scientists from all disciplines and from around the world shared their inspirations, special memories, roadblocks, and triumphs. It was incredibly inspirational, to say the least.

That campaign taught me a few things, which I shared at the AEP luncheon and which I share with you now:

1) The spark that leads to a science career can come at any age.

2) The path to a science career is never straight.

3) Inspiration almost never comes from celebrity scientists or big TV shows; it comes from family, close friends, good teachers, and museum workers.

And upsettingly:

4) Many kids are discouraged - by families and teachers - from pursuing STEM careers.

Please, never let 4) happen again, and let 3) happen all the time.

About the Author

Paul Sutter

Paul Sutter

Paul Sutter is COSI's Chief Scientist. He is an astrophysicist and offers a wealth of knowledge about our universe. In addition to his COSI position, Paul Sutter is a Cosmological Researcher and Community Outreach Coordinator at The Ohio State University's Center for Cosmology and AstroParticle Physics (CCAPP).