Twitter. You gotta love it. Unless you hate it.
See, Twitter is a place where thoughts fly like gnats at a late summer barbeque. The cyber air is thick with opinions. You can rant or rave or drown your followers with banal musings. And when people make you mad, you can lambast them. Twitter is often a place that makes you want to take a vacation from Twitter.
We went on a recent "Twittercation." It was nice—quiet and peaceful. But three weeks in, we realized that we missed the good things about it. The community. The connections. The tweets that make your day better or change your mind. The tweets that make you laugh out loud or gasp in wonder. There are places on Twitter, where certain hashtags roam, that make you want to settle down and set up shop. You think, I could live here forever.
is one of those places. The brainchild of high school teacher Adam Taylor (@2footgiraffe
), #scistuchat is a monthly chat between scientists and high school students. The students ask questions about certain topics and the scientists interact and answer them on Twitter every second Thursday of the month.
We've participated in this hashtag party, answering questions about arthropods. The first thing that struck us was the sheer amount of great questions being thrown out. We felt like we were running with our bug nets into an open field teeming with rare butterflies. We wanted to catch them all to look at them up close. The next thing we noticed was the overall tone of the experience. #Scistuchat has an energy, a voracity to it that makes us feel, as scientists and educators, alive and on fire. This is Twitter (and science outreach) at its best.
Educators complain about not being able to reach youth. Scientists wonder how bugs, bones, feathers, and fur will ever compete with computers, phones, or video games. But there we were at 9 p.m. on a Thursday night tweeting it up with high schoolers about science. The students were far away, throwing questions out into the ether, waiting for a response and coming right back for more.
This week Adam asked the scientists and educators who have participated to join him on Twitter as he presented a poster at the International Society for Technology in Education
. He wanted us to share our experiences and opinions on the merits of the monthly chat. If you think we're in love with it, you should see what everyone else thinks too. He storifyed the experience here
You want to connect? You want to "get through?" There is NO excuse anymore. The technology is here and people of all ages and all walks are hungry to use it. Get on Twitter for the science, stay for the conversations, and ignore the rest. That's our advice.
To read more about Adam Taylor and #scistuchat visit his blog
. It's filled with information on technology in the classroom and Twitter advocacy in education.