Brittany Clawson is pursuing a PhD at the University of Michigan and regularly commutes by bus to MiSci on Saturdays where she can most often be found in Spark!Lab helping inspire inventors.
Exuberance and enthusiasm!
Ever since I was little these two words were the best descriptors of my attitude towards science. When I was twelve years old, my grandfather gave me a subscription to National Geographic. I remember reading an article on mapping the brain of an awake human subject. It was the most interesting thing that I had ever seen – a physical basis for thought and memory! I was so excited that I ran around showing it to everyone I could for the next two weeks. Being a precocious kid, I sought out every opportunity for learning about science that I could after this. One of these opportunities was going to the Michigan Science Center. I still remember how in awe I was of the exhibits. I could stare up at a giant heart, learn about electricity, or even pull weights heavier than I ever thought possible! The science center gave me opportunities to learn that otherwise wouldn’t have been available.
As I grew up, I continued to pursue science through an undergraduate degree in Biochemistry, and now a PhD in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology with a focus on how sleep affects our memories. While I love being in the lab, the wonder of being a kid learning about science never left my heart! So, when I was offered the chance to volunteer with a neuroscience group at the Michigan Science Center, I jumped at the opportunity! Coming back to the center after going to it so many years ago, felt magical! It was still just as interesting and engaging as I remember, and it was wonderful to see other kids having the same experiences that I had. Needless to say, I was hooked.
Since then, I have been volunteering regularly in the Michigan Science Center’s Spark!Lab. Spark!Lab provides a unique hands on environment for the kids, allowing them to ask questions, form hypotheses, and test them out all in one space! With everything from a musical marble course to gear games and building cars, this exhibit is truly engaging and inventive! You can see the spark in their eyes as they start to ask questions and come up with new ideas! They are truly the best scientists; they’re not afraid to ask “Why?”, “How?”, or “What if?”.
Kindling this spirit at a young age, and teaching young minds how to learn about the world around them is critical. Every child should have access to these experiences. A dear friend of mine once said that, “Talent is universal, opportunity is not”, but this wonderful museum gives us an opportunity to help change that in our community. It’s my honor to be a part of such a wonderful program, and I hope to see you in the Spark!Lab!