In my position as director of the School of Science, I find myself thinking a lot about the role of science, not just in higher education, but in society as a whole. The Society for Science and the Public is an organization dedicated to expanding scientific literacy, STEM education, and science research. In just a few words, its mission statement captures the essence of what science should do for society—“inform, educate, and inspire.”
As I look around the School of Science, these three simple words are exemplified in many of the things we do. Events such as Science Café inform the public on current science topics that affect society. Research on best practices for teaching mathematics informs our education colleagues. The Lake Erie Regional Grape Research and Extension Center educates the community on agricultural issues. Outreach events educate our neighbors on science phenomena like the solar eclipse. Students like Dylan Langharst are inspired by a summer internship at Sandia National Laboratories, and groups of 4- and 5-year olds are inspired, without even realizing it, through a clever mix of stories and science.
As you read this issue of Science News, I ask you to think about the ways that science is intertwined with society. Examples like these are what makes us so much more than a collection of science educators, but a group of scientists giving back to society.
Martin Kociolek, Ph.D.