There are plenty of trolls on the Internet. We’ve all seen it in the comments on every social media site and every online article. So much so that some major web publications are actually shutting down their comments. People are jerks on the Internet. They fight with each other. They nitpick each other. They are mean to each other.
And then there is a silver lining. Amazing things can happen that make you realize that the Internet is a wonderful tool that can bring people together. This is one of those stories.
I’ve been listening to a science podcast called Science..Sort Of. It’s a fun podcast that deals with science in pop culture, science in academia, and fringe science. There’s also some stuff about beer and movie trailers. All-in-all, a fun listen.
I’ve made a few comments, left a few voice messages, and interacted with the hosts through various social media throughout the years. I’ve developed a sort of friendship with these people that only the interwebs can create. But that’s what makes the Internet so awesome.
About a month ago, I reached out to three of the hosts of Science…Sort Of to see if they would be interested in talking with some of my students. I sponsor the Science National Honors Society chapter at my school and I wanted my students to get the opportunity to talk to real scientists about what they are doing and how they got into the field. Three of the paleopals (title of the show hosts) stepped up to the plate and today my students got to interview them.
It went so well. Much better than I could have hoped for. My students had great questions and the paleopals had great answers. Everything from why did you pick your major to what classes did you take in college to how is college different from high school, this interview opened up the eyes of some of my students and took away some of their worries about moving on into the big wide world of college, responsibilities and the future.
None of it would be possible without the Internet. These are people that I started following because I like their podcast. I follow them on Twitter and Google+, I like their pages on Facebook. I’ve been able to interact with them through social media even though we all live across the country and have never actually met each other face to face. Because of the interwebs, 11 high school students from a small town outside Phoenix, AZ were able to talk to and interact with two Ph.D students and an engineer in order to learn more about what options the future holds for them. Because of the Internet, I could reach out to other who are willing to provide learning opportunities to anyone who asks.
This is a pretty wonderful thing. 🙂