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Dangerous Experiments

Dangerous Experiments is the LabSpaces spot for guest bloggers. The purpose of the blog is to give new and old bloggers a space to experiment with blogging. If you'd like to contribute to this experiment, send us an e-mail or contact us on twitter at either @LSBlogs or @LabSpaces.

My posts are presented as opinion and commentary and do not represent the views of LabSpaces Productions, LLC, my employer, or my educational institution.

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Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Tiffany May

I am a New York City public high school Earth Science teacher.  Before this, I devoted my life to the theater arts.  These days, my audience consists of thirty-four tenth graders per class period from the  neighborhoods of Brooklyn.  To gain any inkling of their attention, I experimented with numerous tactics.  I put on the mean face: I scolded, I scoffed- it didn't work.  I began to pull out the tools of improvisation and character work that I utilized in my first career of acting, then mixed it with my over flowing enthusiasm for Earth Science.  My classes became a science stand up routine, including improvised songs (the Attitude Song became quite a hit) a plethora of accents, and random impersonations (including Chewbacca) to suit the moment .  Combine that with a serious love for science and behold- I am now the ultra-hyper Ms. Frizzle with questionable sanity.  After being initially frightened, they began appreciating this approach: “Yo Miss- you make me hype... you make me want to learn”, regularly suggesting that I should host my own science show on television.  So I decided to create my own channel, “Introducing Earth” on You Tube.

At around the same time, I was accepted into the Columbia University Research Fellowship Program for Science Teachers.  During two consecutive summers, I work in a real research laboratory to experience the world of science in action.  I have been placed at Columbia's Lamont-Doherty Earth  Observatory in the new Comer Geochemistry building, assisting geochemists.  It is beyond cool.  I feel like a kid in a candy store- “You want me to crush rocks all day?   You want me to zap rocks with contained lightning? Ahhhhh- Sweet!”  With the permission of my Principal Investigator (aka brilliant science boss), I began taping my moments in the lab with my handy Flip camera.

My aim is to make learning science more fun, and to transmit that stoked feeling (aka “Hype”) to others.  It IS cool to learn about science!  It IS awesome to be excited about science!  Perhaps I am too excited, but hey- I'm having a blast sharing what I'm learning in the lab.  In the future I plan to include clips of science moments around New York City, exploring the science that exists in the New York Metro Area.  We may not be able to clearly see many stars in the night sky here, but we've got a plethora of rock types displayed on the thousands of buildings dotting our streets.  And you can't forget the Manhattan Schist in Central Park, the Inwood Marble, the Fordham Gneiss...

I'm hoping that these science moments I share will infect people to love, learn, and live science in their everyday lives.  Science rocks!

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You can learn more about Tiffany and her outreach by following her on twitter or visiting her YouTube Channel.

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