While searching for student blogs, I stumbled upon a great website called “The Student Blog”- how appropriate, right? As I read more about it and looked at some posts, I found that it is dedicated to the next generation of science writers and various students post on the site about many different science-related topics. What a great connection to my teaching and curriculum!
I found a particularly interesting post written by a 15-year-old student, Jack Andraka. (Found here). He had a relative pass away from pancreatic cancer and delved into reading research and learning more about pancreatic cancer. He found that the current method of detecting pancreatic cancer had been around a long time and was not anything current in the medical field. So he took it upon himself to research everything he could and find a better way to detect pancreatic cancer. Jack soon found a major obstacle- science research articles in journals that he wanted to read required payment to access the article (called a paywall). He convinced his mom to fund some articles and after some more research and time, invented a new way to detect pancreatic cancer. Through his journey, Jack was very persistent and found some ways around the paywalls for articles, which aided in his research. Because of all this, Jack is an advocate for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math education) and open access to scientific research articles.
The biggest takeaway for me from Jack’s post (and what I would do in my classroom with my students), is to always encourage students to keep pushing, don’t let obstacles stop you from your goal. Jack did not get distracted or quit when he ran into the paywall obstacles- he found ways around them! Reading those articles were crucial to his invention and he wasn’t going to let the paywalls deter him. Another result of his work is that Jack is a big proponent for open access of science journals and articles- meaning no one should have to pay to read scientific research articles. Open access means having publicly funded access in libraries and schools. Collaboration and new learning enhances science tremendously and open access allows that collaboration. With open access, science knowledge can grow by leaps and bounds. Without open access, science knowledge grows slowly and painfully.
Great job Jack! Keep up the good work! I hope you are an inspiration to my students to always keep going and don’t let obstacles stop forward progress!