Extreme-ly cool science gets kids ready for action


Laura Richman, DVM, Ph.D

Many of us are familiar with the concept of extreme sports—those activities that involve speed, height, lots of physical exertion and typically some highly specialized gear. The individuals who participate in these intense pursuits usually have a wonderful sense of adventure and curiosity and, of course, aren’t afraid of taking some risks.

That defines science. In fact, the many shoulders of science on which we stand include men and women who made it their business to ask that eternal question: Why? They pushed themselves and others into new and different ways of thinking, bypassing what was known and venturing into the unknown. Often, they were dismissed, tantalized, ostracized or otherwise publicly humiliated. And, yet, they persevered, even risking their lives and livelihoods to follow their imagination toward a greater understanding of the world in which we live.

Today, it’s more important than ever that we instill that spirit of wonder and possibility into the minds of our young people—to take an extreme approach to science that gets kids thinking and taking action. To that end, we’re proudly sponsoring the first ever X-STEM: Extreme STEM Symposium—which kicks off the 3rd USA Science & Engineering Festival Expo and Book Fair.

The X-STEM symposium is a “TED-style” event for kids with talks by 50 of the nation's most noted science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) professionals representing top universities, corporations, non-profits and governmental agencies.

My goal, and the goal of all of the expert scientists who are part of X-STEM, is to get kids engaged and excited about science and its endless possibilities. And, we all believe one of the best ways to do this is for them to hear it directly from the folks who are doing it everyday. We’ll do this through storytelling and live demonstrations in subject areas that are uniquely appealing to young people—including space exploration, storm chasing, oceanography, the science of social networks and the physics of superheroes, to name but a few.

Our hope is that this extreme approach will tap in to the natural sense of adventure that kids have, lift them upon our own shoulders and get them ready for takeoff.