Each month, we highlight a AAAS member who is a force for science. To find out how you can be a force for science, visit www.forceforscience.org.
Brandon Haught is a founding board member for the nonprofit Florida Citizens for Science and the author of Going Ape: Florida’s Battles over Evolution in the Classroom.
Share a story from your past that led to your interest in science advocacy
I took every science course my high school had to offer and I've always been fascinated by the countless discoveries that pour in daily about life, our planet, and the universe. But then I get discouraged when politicians and famous people blunder around science topics they know nothing about. They set policies and influence the public. That prompted me to co-found Florida Citizens for Science to counter ignorance’s spread and help produce the next generation of scientists.
What science advocacy activity are you most proud of?
My work with Florida Citizens for Science, the research I did for my book (Going Ape), and switching careers to become a high school science teacher are fulfilling beyond measure. I inform the public, I rally people into action, and I'm a loud cheerleader for quality science education. I've had a hand in influencing statewide science education policies and I've run fundraising campaigns to buy science supplies for classrooms across the state. Seeing pictures of kids experiencing hands on science using equipment I helped supply is incredibly rewarding.
What have you done to be a Force for Science?
The overriding focus of my environmental science classes is making students aware of the never ending flood of current event news that applies directly to what we're learning in the classroom every single day. There will never be a student who will leave my class wondering when they'll ever use what they learned. If I turn loose on this world hundreds of teenagers making good decisions based on sound science, I've done my job.
What advice do you have for those who’d like to get started advocating for science?
No action is too small. Some people balk at being an advocate because they think it will be a huge undertaking that they won't have time for. It's perfectly fine to start with the little things and work your way into bigger things when you have more time. You can start by simply finding like-minded folks. Working together is usually easier and more likely to accomplish goals than working alone.
Share a Web link/video/blog etc. that you’ve thought was especially compelling at communicating science.
I love it when scientists ask for the public's and school children's help. Citizen science is a great way to get students engaged in learning how real scientists do real science. This year my students will participate in the School of Ants project hosted by Dr. Andrea Lucky of the University of Florida department of Entomology and Nematology. What's awesome about this is that ants are everywhere and anyone can participate.
DISCLAIMER: Opinions expressed are those of the AAAS member and are not necessarily the opinions of AAAS, its officers, general members, and/or AAAS MemberCentral department or staff.