Kaitlin sat down with Olivia Mullins, Founder of Science Delivered! a 501c3 based in San Diego, CA, that is dedicated to helping students understand science and confidently and critically engage in the world around them. Our organizations share a common (and important!) mission to encourage empathy and understanding in K-8 students. We look forward to collaborating more with Science Delivered as we work toward this goal in the future! See Olivia’s interview with Kaitlin here.
Kaitlin: What made you start Science Delivered?
Olivia: I started Science Delivered because so many people dislike or are intimidated by science! All too often science is presented as dry and unexciting and kids end up getting turned off from it. But science is inherently fascinating and there are so many cool ways to demonstrate scientific principles. During my former research career, I found I had a knack for simplifying complex information and presenting it in a compelling way. I decided that for maximum impact I needed to do outreach full time, thus Science Delivered was born!
*STEM, science, technology, engineering and mathematics
Kaitlin: What is Science Delivered’s mission?
Olivia: Through our engaging STEM programs, we aim to promote confidence, critical thinking and problem solving in our students and empower them to make positive life choices. We are also very aware that kids from certain groups receive subtle and or even overt discouragement in pursuing science and we aim to combat some of those negative messages.
Kaitlin: Why is teaching science & empathy important to you?
Olivia: While understanding science helps us think critically and engage with the world around us, science itself is morally neutral. However, empathy provides an essential moral compass that allows us to apply our scientific knowledge in a fair and just way.
Although they might not seem related, we think science education can play a big role in promoting empathy. For one example, everyone feels bad for the guy with the broken leg, but people often have trouble empathizing with those who are depressed because they can’t “see” the problem. In our 5th psychology class, we teach students about the physical basis for mental disorders and that chemicals in the brain can cause people to literally feel pain even when you can’t see anything wrong! We teach them that the mind does some counter-intuitive things and challenge them examine their own thought patterns and assumptions.
Kaitlin: Why is a program like Science Delivered crucial for students?
Olivia: I have a few answers for that one! One obvious one is preparedness for the work force. We see 20% of jobs today have a strong STEM component and that number is just going to increase; this includes both jobs requiring an advanced degree and those that do not, so it’s not just the college crowd that needs science education.
The second answer is that knowledge is empowering. Understanding the wider world really can give kids confidence in their own abilities and their own voice. We don’t want kids to look at science as the purview of people radically different from them, we want them to feel like they can grow up to be scientists if they so desire.
The final answer is we that we want to instill a sense of awe in our students. Here science has commonalities with the arts, as it is actually a discipline full of creativity and wonder. Science can make the routine interesting; the night sky is filled light that was emitted thousands of years ago, fruits are purposed as a vehicle for plants to spread their seeds, and the kitchen cupboard is ripe ground for an awesome range of experiments. Students can even look at themselves and ponder the miracle of human existence and consciousness!
These answers aren’t even getting into the benefits at a society-level of having a scientifically literate populace. The benefits are so many! This is why I believe in our mission so strongly.
Kaitlin: What is your goal for 2015?
Olivia: Our goal is to running at full capacity by the end of 2015. We hope to secure enough funding to be able to provide schools with low or no cost programs starting this fall!