March 24th, 2010

Ada Lovelace Day: About Joanne Manaster

See my first Ada Lovelace Day blog entry if you’re not familiar with the person or the cause, which does include science and not just technology.

Meet Joanne Manaster, who switched from a pre-med track to research lab while she was in college & discovered a love of teaching science along the way. As a result of her passion for sharing science she not only teaches various lab courses at the University of Illinois but also hosts, has created over 80 videos on her YouTube channel, and is on Twitter as sciencegoddess with that name as the result of a taking a nerd quiz.

I don’t quite remember how I stumbled across her scientific ways with gummi bears that hooked me in December last year, but they were immediately appealing for the clear & precise ways she explained scientific concepts with humor & fun. As a family we did our own two week experiment about osmosis using gummi bears in salt water, sugar water & regular water as led my our 7-year-old primary investigator. This is a photo towards the beginning; you don’t want to see the end result of how we also learned about salt being a preservative and theories about what feeds different types of mold 🙂

Gummi bears as a control, in sugar, salt and regular water

I wish someone like Joanne had been around back when I was in high school doing genetic engineering. Her about section includes “Part of the purpose of this site is to encourage young men and women to not be afraid of pursuing science for fear of stereotyping yourself as a nerd or geek” along with some of the best website guidelines I’ve ever seen and can only hope to emulate in my own distance education teaching:

  • The tone of my website will primarily be positive, encouraging, and smart
  • I will attempt to make this website appealing to a broad range of readers, trying to capture both active and latent fascination with science in a non-threatening manner
  • I will use scientific terminology and will do my best to explain the vocabulary if necessary
  • This website should never insult your intelligence or bore you
  • I respect your capacity to learn difficult material and will not water down the topics or gloss over important information

I highly encourage everyone to check out her website and will leave you with her latest video about cats in sinks to illustrate theoretic vs experimental research (no harm or water involved).

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