My experience as a presenter representing HPI and parasitology research was both intriguing and inspiring. In my opinion it is a very beneficial to show youth that a career in science is attainable, and how real scientists got their starts. On the flip side, presenters gained invaluable experience explaining complicated topics to inquisitive youth.
The first order of business for me personally, was to work on distilling the concepts of my work into a clear and simple message. I found this task particularly challenging, as research is complicated and multifaceted. Being required to consolidate information was a very productive task, as I now can speak to my work with more confidence. It has helped me communicate scientific ideas to young adults more effectively, which will hopefully improve all of my presentation skills.
When complete, HPI trainees had the opportunity to present their parasitology research slide shows to middle-school aged girls with an interest in science. The HPI trainees often explained how and why they ended up working in a lab setting. I hoped this conversation helped dispel some of the myths around who can become a scientist. Next, presenters explained the broad concepts of their research focus, and its non-academic relevance. Discussing why scientific work is important beyond academia, like the relevance of parasitic infections in average people’s lives may inspire these young women to pursue a career in science.
I was particularly impressed when one of the girls asked a question that the presenter had not thought of, but was completely viable. It demonstrates how important it is to seek out new perspectives on complex problems, even when someone is an expert. This experience also highlighted to me why adults should not assumption children’s abilities, as they often can understand complex information when presented in an accessible manor. The presentations were concluded
with a variety of interactive parasitology stations with samples and cool facts. This was a great addition, as it cemented some of the concepts tangibly.
When looking back, I would argue the Minds in Motion summer camp w
ere highly successful because it considerably benefited all parties involved. It helped dispelled myths around science, and presented the discipline as accessible to an under represented group. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of the program and I look forward to helping out the next time Minds in Motion summer camps are featured.