Leaving the bubble

Nicolás Smith Sánchez von Nicolás Smith Sánchez am 12.10.2019

Sometimes science definitely feels like a bubble. We are surrounded by colleagues that mirror, to a lesser or greater extent, our beliefs and worries to the point that we forget that other people are unaware of the issues that keep us up at night. This leads us to become challenged in ways that we already expect and to focus every argument on the same perspective. What about creativity? What about the economical and societal aspects of our research? Do the people living just across from the harbor where our mesocosms are deployed even know what they are there for? They surely see them every day and notice people hurriedly walking up and down the pier carrying nets and bottles filled with water, but do they care? And, please excuse my egocentrism but, do we care about involving them?

The bridge between science and other disciplines is often a flimsy one. Even worse is the one between scientists and citizens, who will ultimately be affected by the outcomes of our research and whose voices matter. Nevertheless, we can all see that times are changing. Initiatives such as the Ocean artUp or the MOSAiC websites, with their blogs, bring science closer to people, making it more accessible and relatable.

Science outreach to children 1

Yesterday, my colleague Mar and I had the chance to go to the Brains International School close by in Telde to talk to the students and teachers about artificial upwelling. I cannot tell you how thrilled we were about it, how happy we were to share what we are learning with the kids that live here, and to discover how curious and engaged they are with environmental global problems. They even have an ongoing project called “Brains en verde” in which they discuss one environmental problem every month. We were there to, of course, tell them about Ocean artUp’s objectives and challenges, but also to make them laugh with us at our silly inside jokes and, more importantly, hear their voices, their ideas and questions.

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Thirteen-year-olds can be very intimidating, especially when there are eighty of them staring back at me. But seeing how keen they were to understand why we are trying to make the ocean flourish, hearing their witty and imaginative questions, definitely made it worthwhile. I can only be thankful for this opportunity, I feel lucky to have had the platform to communicate our work to what, in my opinion, is one of the more distinguished crowds I’ve had so far. This definitely has to be prioritized in our agendas, and we already are coming up with more fun and encouraging workshops for the future!

Science outreach to children 2