Social Media & Science – Nerdtastic!

The word “trend” is pretty “trendy” right now. Used to be trends only happened in the fashion world – and now we look back at those trends and cringe. (Did I really wear flannel to middle school? Help us all if that ever comes back.) But now, thanks to social media, the word “trend” is used quite often. We usually use it to see what people are “talking” about. And you see the more things trend, the more we talk about them. Vicious cycle, I know. Some trends are pointless – like that Justin B is always trending somewhere in this world. Some trends are political – I am pretty sure the debate last night was trending, I wouldn’t know I was too busy watching the Yankees lose, yay! But some trends are inspiring. Some trends are showing us that there is hope in humanity and in the future of our world.

Lately a lot of these trends had focused one something near and dear to me – SCIENCE! Yeah, I am a science teacher and a self-proclaimed nerd, but most people in the US or around the world are neither of those things. Yet thanks to social media science is trending often, and it is trending BIG time.

I started thinking about this last week while teaching my students about the Apollo space program. We were discussing how almost every person in the US (and many parts of the world) stopped what they were doing to watch Neil Armstrong take first steps on the moon. One of my students asked me “how did they know he was going to do that, they didn’t have internet?” I answered his question, but really that stuck with me. I get a lot of my information from Twitter and Facebook. Also, when something is happening that is important, I pull up Twitter and follow along, and even comment. We have become dependent on social media to bring us current events as they happen.

But where does science come into all of this, many of our current events are science based. Think about last Sunday, what were you talking about on Twitter and Facebook? Other than sports, probably Felix Baumgartner’s jump. On August 4, 2012, you may not recognize that day, but if you were on twitter you were tweeting about @MarsCuriosity landing on Mars. It is a safe bet that if it was not for social media Times Square would not have had over 1000 watching the landing after midnight.

When looking for info for this post, I came across this article on Felix Baumgartner’s jump. 7.3 million viewers were watching on youtube, his picture got over 200,000 likes on Facebook within 40 minutes, he had more tweets than Justin B or NFL during that time. All social media, all science.

NASA has done an excellent job tapping into this medium. They have NASA Social or #NASAsocial (formerally #NASAtweetup) where people from all over the world from all walks of life come and tweet events they are having. I attended the Mars Curiosity landing and it was cool to see that all 25 attendees had different professions and tweeted about different genres. So the people following us saw our tweets and  passed them on. If we were all teachers or scientist the tweets would have gone into the same ol’ echo chamber. They also have twitter accounts for astronauts and their “space craft” like @MarsCuriosity and @NASAvoyager.

Lastly, so often #STEM has been tweeting lately. Perfect. So while as educators we stress about whether or not our kids are becoming problem solvers and how testing is killing their creativity, we can rejoice that social media has our backs. I cannot wait to see what awesome science adventure will be trending!

One thought on “Social Media & Science – Nerdtastic!

  1. candicedelgado says:

    This is a great post! I think that’s amazing that your student paused to think about how the “message” got out years ago that there was a man about to walk on the moon, even without the internet. Today, I find that is such a challenging thing for students to understand. While many teachers are fearful of how the internet will slow our students down, I see that the internet actually opens them up to see and learn things that would otherwise be learned in a textbook. Social media is something that kids are growing up around and like you, we need to use that to our advantage and teach through it.

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