Science Wednesday: Sharing our Science

Each week we write about the science behind environmental protection. Previous Science Wednesdays.

By Mario R. Sengco, Ph.D.

It was a great afternoon of scientific engagement and a showcase of knowledge and technologies at the Inaugural USA Science and Engineering Festival at the National Mall.

Standing behind the EPA display, I saw young children, middle-schoolers and some high school students flock to EPA’s demonstration of permeable pavements, like a piece of iron filing to a magnet.  In their eyes, I saw the excitement and genuine interest in the things we had to say.  They wanted to touch, hear, smell and see the exhibits.  They want to get dirty and to figure things out.  To be sure, there were many adults there – especially the parents—whose inner child was drawn out by the science about water quality bio-indicators, or testing lung capacity, even by the EPA Panda.

As a scientist making a transition into the policy arena, I was pleased to engage the public and to demonstrate that science plays a crucial role in the work of the EPA.  Too often, the decision making process can be lost to the average person on the street.  Mixed messages about science, uncertainties in data, and debates about certain controversial topics have sometimes made the public uncomfortable.

But at that afternoon’s display, we were able to show that science is relatable, and that the concepts can be readily understood, and the implications to decision/policy-making can be appreciated.

About the Author:  Mario R. Sengco, Ph.D., a marine biologist, is 2009-11 American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science and Technology Fellow in EPA’s Office of Water.

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