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Stories by Janet D. Stemwedel

Crime, punishment, and the way forward: in the wake of Sheri Sangji's death, what should happen to Patrick Harran?

When bad things happen in an academic laboratory, what should happen to people who bear responsibility for those bad things -- even if they didn't mean for them to happen?This is the broad question I've been thinking about in connection with the prosecution of chemistry professor Patrick Harran and UCLA in connection with the laboratory accident that killed Sheri Sangji...

March 27, 2012 — Janet D. Stemwedel

I am science, and so can you!

Following up on my post yesterday about my own journey with science, I wanted to offer some words of encouragement to those who are still in the early stages of their own journey.

February 16, 2012 — Janet D. Stemwedel

I am science ... or am I?

Kevin Zelnio kicked it off on Twitter with a hashtag, and then wrote a blog post that shared the details of his personal journey with science. Lots of folks have followed suit and shared their stories, too -- so many that I can't even begin to link them without leaving something wonderful out...

February 15, 2012 — Janet D. Stemwedel

My story from the ScienceOnline 2012 banquet.

This year at ScienceOnline, the conference banquet featured storytelling organized by The Monti, a North Carolina non-profit organization dedicated to building community by getting people to share their true stories with each other...

February 5, 2012 — Janet D. Stemwedel

Help high school "nerds" visit the Large Hadron Collider.

Last week, I got a really nice email, and a request, from a reader. She wrote: I am a high school senior and an avid follower of your blog. I am almost definitely going to pursue science in college - either chemistry, physics, or engineering; I haven't quite decided yet!...

January 11, 2012 — Janet D. Stemwedel

Suit against UCLA in fatal lab fire raises question of who is responsible for safety.

Right before 2011 ended (and, as it happened, right before the statute of limitations ran out), the Los Angeles County district attorney's office filed felony charges against the University of California regents and UCLA chemistry professor Patrick Harran in connection with a December 2008 fire in Harran's lab that resulted in the death of a 23-year-old staff research assistant, Sheharbano "Sheri" Sangji.As reported by The Los Angeles Times : Harran and the UC regents are charged with three counts each of willfully violating occupational health and safety standards...

January 4, 2012 — Janet D. Stemwedel

Science and ethics shouldn't be muddled (or, advice for Jesse Bering).

Jesse Bering's advice column is provoking some strong reactions. Most of these suggest that his use of evolutionary psychology in his answers lacks a certain scientific rigor, or that he's being irresponsible in providing what looks like scientific cover for adult men who want to have sex with pubescent girls.My main issue is that the very nature of Jesse Bering's column seems bound to muddle scientific questions and ethical questions.In response to this letter: Dear Jesse,I am a non-practicing heterosexual hebephile—and I think most men are—and find living in this society particularly difficult given puritanical, feminist, and parental forces against the normal male sex drive...

December 24, 2011 — Janet D. Stemwedel

Science-y books for kids.

There seems to be a profusion of fabulous kids' books these days, including many engaging books on scientific topics. Indeed, there are so many that I wouldn't even know how to boil them down to a top ten list.So, I'm going to just point you towards some of the books my kids have enjoyed, especially in the early grades of elementary school (roughly K-3)...

December 21, 2011 — Janet D. Stemwedel

Fun games for science-y kids.

There are two features of games that have always appealed to me. First, the good ones put you in a place where you are explicitly thinking out different ways the future could play out -- the possibilities that are more or less likely given what you know (and what you don't know)...

December 14, 2011 — Janet D. Stemwedel

How do we make room for pink microscopes? (More thoughts on gendered science kits.)

As we've been considering the hazards of gendered science kits for kids, some have suggested that it is simplistic to paint pink microscopes as an unalloyed evil.One response on the potential value of girls' science kits comes from Meghan Groome at Pathways to Science: As someone who studies the formation of science identity in middle school students, I see everyday how girls try to navigate acceptable girl identities with those teachers look for to identify science talent...

December 2, 2011 — Janet D. Stemwedel

Some reasons gendered science kits may be counterproductive.

We want kids to explore science and get excited about learning (and doing) it. Given that kids learn so much through play, rather than just by trying to sit still at a desk and to pay attention to a teacher who may or may not convey enthusiasm about science, you'd think that science kits marketed as "play" would be a good thing.Why, then, am I skeptical about the value of science kits for girls?...

November 28, 2011 — Janet D. Stemwedel

Science kits ... for girls.

Via a tweet from Ed Yong, I discovered this weekend (not that I couldn't have guessed) that purveyors of science kits for kids are still gendering the heck out of them.

November 28, 2011 — Janet D. Stemwedel
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Science or SciFi?

Science or SciFi?

Vanishing Particles. Spooky Action.