I’m going to March for Science because we humans are hardwired to be scientists. In fact, we do science every day and it’s one of the coolest things we do. Think about it: every time we’re filled with curiosity about something and seek to find out more about it, we’re scientists. We’re scientists when we use our imaginations to dream up something and figure out how to make it a reality. When we’re faced with a problem and use our intelligence to find a solution, we’re scientists. We’re scientists when we use our powers of observation to see patterns in things and formulate theories to explain them. Every day, every one of us is a scientist.
Now, I doubt you have a lab set up in your kitchen with petrie dishes incubating in the toaster oven, or that you tinker on a particle accelerator in your garage on the weekends. But when you look closely, you’ll see you can’t not do science. It’s what humans do naturally!
Curiosity is the springboard of science
Scientific discoveries always start with curiosity. And who among us isn’t curious about something? We’re naturally curious creatures.
Our ancient ancestors must have been curious what would happen when they buried beans in the ground and let them get soaked in the pouring rain. A few days later, when bean plants sprouted up all over the place, they had their answer. Agriculture was born! Human civilization burst forward in a whole new way and we’ve been farming ever since.
People in ancient times wondered why a small number of stars moved in different paths across the sky from all the rest. Those first astronomers studied the heavens carefully and that’s how they discovered the planets. Suddenly, we learned we were living in a solar system with neighboring worlds. And we’re still exploring space to this day.
Isaac Newton wondered why an apple fell on his head and discovered gravity. He went on to figure out the laws of how objects move in space and many other huge discoveries.
Being curious is a fun and fascinating part of being human. It comes naturally. It’s how we learn and discover new things. And scientific discoveries are the foundation for much of human civilization.
Imagination launches scientific discoveries
We’re scientists when we use our imaginations. We’ve all heard how the Wright brothers imagined flying across the sky in a motorized machine over one-hundred years ago. At the time, it was thought to be a foolhardy endeavor. On their way to building the first successful airplane, the Wright brothers discovered a wealth of information about aerodynamics and engineering. Transportation was launched into a new era. Suddenly, it wasn’t so crazy to imagine flying to the moon!
When we imagine something that may seem impossible and decide we’re going to figure out how to do it, we’re being scientists. We learn all we can about our subject, we devise a plan and then we go for it. We experiment with different ways to accomplish our goal, making adjustments to our plan when we have failures and forging ahead with our successes. The electronic device on which you’re reading this article was once just a wild dream in somebody’s imagination. But it’s certainly a reality now. That’s science. And that’s the power of imagination to make new things happen.
Using our intelligence to solve problems is science
We’re scientists when we use our intelligence to solve problems. Sometimes the problem is fun like a word puzzle, using our knowledge that vowels occur in words more frequently than consonantes. We don’t think of ourselves as using the science of linguistics, but we are.
Getting turned around on a hike and realizing we’re lost is a more urgent problem. Using our heads, we use the location of the sun or landmarks to find our way out of the woods. We’re using an inner form of cartography or geospatial analysis to save the day. We don’t normally think of this as science, but it is.
History and movies are filled with stories of heroes and heroines using their wits to get them out of impossible pickles. Problem-solving just comes naturally to human beings. We’re so successful as a species because we’re smart and think like scientists more than we realize, although it doesn’t hurt to have some duct tape or chewing gum in a pinch.
Using our powers of observation to notice patterns is science
We’re scientists when we observe patterns and create a hypothesis to explain it. Patterns occur everywhere in our lives, from the reliable patterns of the changing length of days and weather as seasons come and go, to the pattern of notes in a song we love, to rainbows appearing when the sun comes out after it rains.
We can observe these patterns and draw some conclusions. When the days get longer, the earth receives more sunlight, so the weather gets warmer. Particular patterns of notes put together make beautiful harmonies, and random note put together usually sound horrible. Water in the atmosphere after a rain does something to sunlight that makes rainbows appear.
Our inborn powers of observation and our ability to postulate explanations for the patterns we observe makes us natural scientists.
Wonder at this amazing world makes us scientists
It usually happens when we’re in nature, it seems, hiking into the deep, rich quiet of a pine-scented forest, or sitting on a beach taking in the vastness of the ocean, or being far from city lights at night, gazing into the Milky Way and contemplating the immensity of the universe. These are moments, it seems, when the wonder of life on Earth, the wonder of Earth itself and our place in the universe, stirs within us a longing to understand more. Just appreciating being alive can move us to explore more deeply our world. While many quests of understanding cannot be fulfilled by science, science itself can add to that sense of wonder and appreciation.
Few would argue that this world is mind-blowingly beautiful and amazing when you stop and think about it.
But never forget that you have the mind-blowing natural talents of curiosity, imagination, intelligence and powers of observation. You are naturally equipped to explore and understand the world around you in fascinating ways. You’re hardwired to be a scientist, delving more deeply all the time into subjects that interest you most.
I’m Marching for Science because we’re all scientists and it’s one of the coolest things we humans do.