How being an “everything nerd” helps me be a better scientist #MakerEducation

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Excellent first-person write-up from high school senior Natalia Orlovsky about her STEM journey so far featured on Society for Science.

I spent the summer before my junior year of high school shuttling between a toxicology lab and the Penn Museum’s Mesoamerica gallery, flitting between two very different worlds.

On weekdays, as a student in the University of Pennsylvania’s Teen Research and Education in Environmental Science (TREES) program, I attended lectures, visited sites of environmental interest, and designed and conducted a molecular toxicology research project examining the effects of e-cigarette vapor on cell stress pathways. I hummed show tunes while plating cells and cracked nerdy jokes with my fellow TREES students about how ex-cell-ently our days had gone.

On weekends, however, I donned my yellow volunteer I.D. and at the train station exit, I took a right instead of my usual weekday left toward the lab. I spent my shifts at the museum giving interactive presentations on a set of replica artifacts and engaging in conversations about ancient civilizations with museum visitors.

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