TED Conversations

Teresa Hernandez

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A way for young women who are interested in science to find labs in nearby universities to do their research and test their ideas.

While watching this TED Talk, I was moved by the willingness of the first two presenters to contact over a hundred people asking them to help them test their hypothesis. Because I teach in a university, I was struck by how few people agreed. This made me think of the number of young women who maybe only contacted 99 and therefore never got a "yes." How can that be? This made me start thinking of how more universities might encourage high schools students in their communities to pursue their scientific questions.
If there was a sort of cyberconnection to help curious students who are innovating ideas to connect with scientists who had the labs and the resources to help the students test their ideas, students and ideas would flourish. What if, we could create a database of labs with the resources that students could access, then might this not allow for more learning and encourage young women to innovate?

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    Jan 17 2012: Crispin: That is a fine idea. They would be able to tell us how students might approach it when they are seeking. I think when trying to connect people we need to look at how the students could be made aware of the possibilities and how the interested researchers/labs would be able to list their resources. I thought it was great that one of the young women used chromatography to analyze the components. So really she needed a lab that had the necessary equipment.
    So, let me think about this for a day or two and imagine how we could set up something where interested parties would be able to access the information. Just brainstorming here, I think it might start as a facebook group where people could join and post something about their interest, location and ideas and then scientists/labs could post what they are doing in their labs and the general type of equipments.
    Let me take a look in the next few days and study the way groups are set up. It could also be as easy as just putting up a link and then the students could go look at the link. Doing research on storytelling one day I found a neuropsychologist who does MRIs on people listening and telling stories. I say this because that link was easy for me to access.
    If you could, would you contact the young women and then I will do a little research on the groups and we will meet at the pass. Sound good? This is going to be fun! Thanks so much for getting involved. I think we can also talk to organizations about getting the word out. My mother was a physics professor and she belonged to a Physics organization who would have happily published information about this in a news letter. My sister teaches at the North Carolina School of Science and Math and she could get the word out to students and science teachers. So I think we can make this thing fly.
  • Jan 17 2012: Hi Teresa,
    Thanks for your enthusiastic reply. I have several Facebook pages, but am a bit of a loss as to how to set one up for the purpose envisioned. We need a searchable database to connect people rather than a normal Facebook streaming "conversation." Might we (you) contact one of the bright young women who gave Ted talks and stimulated this idea?
    Best,
    Crispin
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    Jan 14 2012: Great idea!
    Find excess bandwidth intergenerationally.
    Link it. Strengthen scientific solution finding.
    Mind map or use prezi to make a visual of what you need to make it happen.
    Put the call out for specifics, create a timeline & budget, mentors will find you,
    get giddy about your imagined world, laugh all the way to change.

    Ashoka awarded 5 Technology for a Better World Winners this past year. They were all linked in some way to elders who had skills they had not yet mastered, but they found from them ways of changing their world using technology with their help. If a system were set up for a closer natural connection of those needing support and those who could offer it, you might change the world in a very big way. http://www.ashoka.org/story/youth-venture-and-best-buy-present-winners

    Let TEDxHomer know when the change is made. We'll invite you to speak about your process and the new possibilities as a result of your idea.
  • Jan 13 2012: Both young women and men can benefit from this.
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      Jan 13 2012: At Houston, Texas: How right you are. Let's make it happen for everybody. No exclusion here!
  • Jan 13 2012: After viewing the clip of the young lady explaining her research on chicken-grilling carcinogen formation (I am a toxicologist), I am moved to offer research opportunities to young people. (My 12 year-old daughter often helps me with lab demonstrations). I wonder if a Facebook site might be the appropriate social media cyber-connection for budding researchers and lab facilities and adviser support.
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      Jan 13 2012: Crispin: This is exactly what I am talking about! Let's do it. Facebook would be a good start. Thanks so much for continuing the conversation!!!!
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    Jan 10 2012: So what I am proposing and merely with the use of a forum such as these talks, is to start a conversation in a social media environment. The first question is simply who are you and what is your research interest? Where are you and how far can you travel? You get the idea... and then it spreads and just like we find a bicycle that someone needs to give to someone looking for one.
    If we continue to leave girls at the mercy of a society who (1) values them more for their looks and less for their brains and (2)gives them schools with restraints (by no fault of anyone) and teachers who are struggling simply to stay afloat with such large classes, we will end up with fewer and fewer of them understanding their value and their ability to become scientists and innovators. I am not really blaming anyone, but I am just saying, "Let's foster their desire." We are all connected and the whole of society benefits.
    So, if you saw this talk and were struck by the fact that so few people responded, let's do something about it. Do you have a lab? Do you have some time to invest? Do you want to help build the minds of tomorrow? Are you a high school teacher with a kid who has ideas and no place to test them? Are you a computer programmer, librarian, anybody who has ideas of how to build the resource and connect people?
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      Jan 10 2012: Yes, that is true as well. I understand that the scientists in those labs are busy and are sometimes struggling for time and resources, but I think in both these cases and probably with many of the undergraduate and graduate students you are speaking about, there is potential out there that could be lost. The notion is that if there was a way to connect the students with the scientists without having to have it be a crap-shoot, then everybody would profit. I also know that many woman scientists and mathematicians want to help foster the interest of young women, but because they are busy and sometimes underestimate the potential for their influence, they don't do it.