Friday, February 24, 2012

Good Deeds, Good Science: IAmScience Kickstarter

Kevin Zelnio, husband, father, musician, scientist, human.

As someone who is not only into science, but also does science, I was over the moon to see the #IAmScience hashtag in my tweet stream on the evening of January 26th, 2012.  This is because, like hundreds, if not thousands, of others, my trajectory into science did not necessarily follow the stereotypical blueprint associated with becoming a scientist.  Furthermore, and quite frankly, I am sick of what people think scientists should look and act like.   

It all started with this harsh yet honest post from Zuska, in which she admitted to disliking the Science Online 2012 keynote speaker, Mireya Mayor, just because of her femininity.  It took some deduction and self-observation to figure out exactly why Zuska had a negative reaction to Mayor, and her post inspired others to admit, although somewhat abashedly, that they felt similarly.

Naturally, this sparked quite a discussion within the scicomm community, and also facilitated several tangible reactions, including the Double Xpression: Profiles of Women into Science series on Double X Science and Allie Wilkinson’s This Is What A Scientist Looks Like tumblr.  But, perhaps the most heartfelt and inspiring movement coming out of this discussion is Kevin Zelnio’s baby, #IAmScience

In the events leading up to #IAmScience, Zelnio asks why the scicomm community was so bothered by Mayor and her keynote address.  His point, which was well said despite of the 140 character limitation, basically called out those who weren’t practicing what they preached.

This was followed by a brutally honest recap of how Zelnio made his way into science, which included drug use, homelessness, and violent behavior. 

And, suddenly, #IAmScience became a movement.

Because of the roaring success of #IAmScience, Zelnio is looking to expand the movement’s reach.  He has launched an #IAmScience Kickstarter project, which, if funded, will lead to an eBook containing individual #IAmScience stories:

The goal of the I am Science storytelling is to break down the scientist stereotype and highlight how much diversity of backgrounds really exist in science, where stereotypes in Hollywood and the media have done massive damage to the field. To reduce barriers to accessing this resource, the e-book will be made freely available for all major digital platforms (Kindle, iPad, Nook, pdf).

We at Double X Science believe in the breaking down of stereotypes when it comes to science and scientists, and we encourage you to donate to this worthy cause.  For a closer look at the #IAmScience stories, you can check out the IAmScience Tumblr, or read Emily Willingham’s touching and poetic post about her science experience. 

Making these types of stories available to the public will do nothing short of inspire – and this may be the deciding factor for a career in STEM for those living a life where no inspiration can be readily found.  Together, we can make a difference, one IAmScience story at a time.

To back Kevin Zelnio’s Kickstarter project, visit the IAmScience Kickstarter page. 

IAmScience vimeo is by Mindy Weisberger.    

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