Earth Day, April 22, saw one of many of the marches on Washington, D.C. that 2017 has produced: The March for Science.
A march is a shout, a “Hey, over here, you need to hear this” one-time event. It is not a conversation. It really isn’t even action. It’s a start that requires follow up.
But how do you follow up a massive, organized march that happened across the globe? Consider following it up with little things, at every opportunity:
First, say “yes” to opportunities to be an ambassador for science. A neighbor asks, “Can you judge the science fair at our school?” Say, “yes”. Approach the task with a mind to encourage the students you meet, to get them engaged in conversations about their work—pointing out the good things they did, asking them how they could improve their work, asking what kind of problems these sorts of studies, conducted on a larger scale, might help solve. Maybe it’s only eight kids you talk to that day, maybe only one gets truly motivated to study science, but that is one more than if you didn’t go.
Second, make your own opportunities. Is there a Little Free Library box in your neighborhood? Add a few science books or better yet some scientist biographies. Better yet, make a donation of new science-related books to your local public library. You could start a blog: WordPress is free, easy-to-use, and has great SEO. Blog posts don’t need to be award winning essays. Write about a typical work day. Take pictures from the field and post them with captions like, “Migrating robins are back in Wisconsin today.” Little things like this are non-threatening and go a long way toward breaking down barriers. Invite others to engage with you and see what you can learn from them. Your created opportunity can be as simple as sponsoring a child to attend a STEM workshop or nature camp. On one of the vacation days at my daughter’s school, I paid for her and a friend to spend the day at a local nature center—two young girls spending the day exploring the world and learning some science. Or you can even write a letter to the editor of your local paper for Arbor Day or Pi Day or Mole Day explaining what the holiday is all about.
Third, don’t forget about elections. School board elections. Alderman elections. Town board elections. State elections. If you are really concerned about science and STEM and education, go vote. When I voted in the spring primary election in Wisconsin this year, we had about 8% voter turnout. That means that 92% of the registered, eligible voters in the state didn’t bother to show up and vote. In the actual spring election itself, only 14% of the eligible voters turned out. Voting is a simple but important action you can take to support science.
You can march for science in small steps every day in all sorts of places, and the combined effect of millions of small steps can reshape the world more dramatically than the thickest glacier.
How will you march for science today?