I once got so frustrated at a math test that I started crying in the middle of class.
Granted, I was in the third grade, but I was so confused and embarrassed that I couldn’t understand the three pages of multiplication in front of me. I had to be consoled by the teacher. It took about an hour and half for me to calm down.
Anytime I took classes to fill (math and science) requirements it was a battle.
Then later that week, I got the highest grade in class on a poem I wrote. I knew from an early age what my academic alignment was - I was a creative person!
I have never been a math or science person. Anytime I took classes to fill those requirements it was a battle. I’d just try to get it over with as quickly and painlessly as possible, that was my approach.
“I have never been a math or science person.”
At least that’s how it was until I took astronomy last quarter.
When I first went to the Science Dome at Pierce College, I was a surly high schooler. I assumed going to the local community college’s planetarium would be a throwaway experience, something I moved on from after dinner. But I was very wrong.
“After that, I spent the next couple of weeks reading about space. I became a bit obsessed.”
I did not expect a fully domed roof, or a projector that could actually project all of space on the ceiling. I was surprised when I found out that the projector could take you to the surface of celestial objects. We flew through the Orion Nebula, landed on Europa, and watched two galaxies collide. All of this was right here, practically in my backyard.
My mind was blown.
After that, I spent the next couple of weeks reading about space. I became a bit obsessed. It even encouraged me to try a bit harder in math (which is a miracle in itself).
All of this was right here, practically in my backyard.
Then I signed up for an American Honors Astronomy class. I thought it would be a fun way to knock some requirements out of the way, at least more fun than Chem.
When my professor was explaining the syllabus to the class, she passed out a schedule of the days we were meeting in a different room. I didn’t think much of it at the time.
When one of those days came around and I couldn’t find the room, one of my classmates told me it wasn’t actually a room; it was the Science Dome!
“I had worn a badge of, ‘Bad at Science and Math’ for years.”
Now, it was my second year of college and I had a predicament. I was an intended Humanities major that was undeniably in love with Astronomy. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I had worn a badge of, “Bad at Science and Math” for years and here I was contradicting myself. I realized that maybe the only thing limiting me was me- not science.
So I challenged myself with more math. I signed up for classes I never would have taken without that new curious confidence. I tried to view every problem in the context of space, and suddenly each lesson had a new importance to me. I wasn’t just finding the vertex of a parabola, I was finding the peak of a satellite launch.
I used to think about how much that field trip to the Science Dome changed me. It wasn’t until recently that I realized it didn’t change me at all; it released me.
Now, I can do complex calculations like figuring out the no-greenhouse temperature of a comet with only its albedo and orbital period. Third grade me would never believe that I could even get through my times table.
“It helped me realize what I could achieve if I just really tried.”
I used to think about how much that field trip to the Science Dome changed me.
It wasn’t until recently that I realized it didn’t change me at all; it released me. It helped me realize what I could achieve if I just really tried. I didn’t have to be a natural or understand it immediately.
Now, every time I walk by the Science Dome on my way to Biological Anthropology, I smile because that special place is the reason I'm here now.