Last month, on Earth Day, over 1 million people gathered at 600 locations worldwide to show their support for science. Though they marched for a wide range of STEM-related causes, they were united in their determination to have their voices heard in support of the role science plays in our lives.
This was the march with the witty, geeky signs. Spotted on Boston Common were clever protest signs such as “Think Like a Proton: Always Positive,” “There Is No Planet B,” and, perhaps summing up the event, “Society Should Worry When Geeks Have to Demonstrate.” Labs from all the major universities in the Boston area participated, often with the rallying cry: “Out of the labs and into the streets.” Key among the marchers’ causes were support for basic STEM research, the teaching of valid science in K-12, and action on climate change. The Boston Public Library came out to show their support on the latter, showcasing their BookCycle, which visits schools to provide STEM books to local students. That whimsical exhibit was part of the spirit of the day, which was thoughtful, family-friendly, and a celebration of the progress achievable through science. There was concern that this progress was in danger; however, the overarching focus was on taking action to keep science strong.
In keeping with this spirit, MarchForScience.com proposed a Week of Action following the event, to take the passion and forward-thinking spirit shown during the demonstrations and turn them into positive action. For many, this is turning into a year of action, as we look for ways to help scientists keep their funding, teach kids about science, and raise awareness of science in the community.
There is a lot you can do. From inviting a working scientist to speak to your group, to volunteering as a mentor if you are a STEM professional, to fighting misinformation when you see it. Here are some tips, including from our Hub community and from the March for Science team:
- Fact-Check: Memes on social media are not peer-reviewed. Before you share tips, warnings, or other information about medicine or the environment, verify that it’s from a trusted source. Check for peer-reviewed research in major journals. For medical information, look on the websites for Mass General or the Mayo Clinic. For environmental data, check out the Union of Concerned Scientists, The Sierra Club, or OECD.
- Participate in Citizen Science: The March for Science’s organizers recommend SciStarter, an organization and platform that match volunteers with scientific projects that need help. You can do everything from photographing clouds in different regions for NASA, to conducting air-quality monitoring in your community.
- Mentor: If you are a scientist, one of the most powerful things you can do is to mentor others. This can take the form of working with youngsters to understand what scientists do, to working with STEM startup programs to provide guidance to emerging organizations. Science Club for Girls, for instance, is looking for everything from club leaders to one-time mentors to event speakers. You do not even need to be a scientist to participate: most nonprofits need help with a range of activities, from marketing to fundraising.
- Make Your Voice Heard: Share your views that science matters, wherever you can. Write op-eds, email not just your legislators, but also share information about science within your community. Subscribe to newsletters that share the latest research, and resolve to forward them to peers who share your passion for science.
- Create Opportunities: If you are STEM startup, consider bringing youth into to your company over the summer as interns or for job shadowing. Find ways to engage students who are interested in STEM with real-world experiences, whether for a summer, a semester, or even a day.
- Connect with Advocacy Groups: Organizations such as Future of Research provide a platform to learn about issues, take action, and create change. One of their initiatives, for instance, helps scientists and those passionate about specific scientific and environmental issues write op-eds and other articles, connecting them with appropriate outlets. The AFS Email Tool helps you connect with your legislators by finding contact info, so you can advocate easily.
There is so much you can do to keep the March for Science momentum going and #SaveScience.