Introducing the Science Online Students – Alex

By Ms Baker

In January, eight Extreme Biology students will travel to Science Online 2011, an international conference where scientists, educators, journalists, and students come together to discuss the way the web is changing science and science education.  Ms. Baker has interviewed each of the students.  This is the fifth in the series.

Tell us a little about  yourself.  What are your interests?  Hobbies?  Plans for the future?

I’m a sophomore in high school and my favorite hobbies include listening to music and podcasts, reading, and taking care of animals. I come from a family of dog lovers and love nothing more than going to the local pet shop and helping the employees train and take care of dogs. I’m an avid reader and love the works of David Foster Wallace, John Green, J.D. Salinger, J.K. Rowling, and Chuck Palahniuk. I also love listening and collecting vinyl records from some of my favorite bands (The Zombies, The Beatles, The Stones, Bruce Springsteen, The Doors, The Kinks, and The Velvet Underground). I’m also a crazed college hunter. You can always find me flipping through college magazines and looking up my dream schools online, comparing acceptance rates and calculation GPA’s. Like most high school students, my ambitions constantly flip flop; usually I go back and forth between journalism and medicine. All I know is that I want to make some sort of difference in the world. Not necessarily to life as we know it or to all of mankind, but if I could help some in need of help through my profession I consider that a life well lived.

What interests you about Science Online?

Obviously as a student lucky enough to attend the conference, I’m aware of the incredible opportunities Science Online presents. Besides being a platform to meet amazing professionals in the field of science media, I’m really excited to go to all of the presentations. At last year’s conference, I was completely enraptured by the endless topics and people there. My favorite was definitely Carl Zimmer’s presentation, as I’ve been a fan of his work for a year or two now.

You’re going to be presenting at the conference.  Tell us what you plan to share with the audience.  What do you hope the audience shares with you?

I plan on presenting on using YouTube and podcasts to help interest students and get them academically involved with stimulating online communities. I got the idea from one of my favorite YouTube channels, the Vlogbrothers. Hank and John Green have communicated through their vlogs and quickly became an online phenomenon. They’ve created a wonderfully supportive online community full of supportive intellectuals who talk about the economy, literature, history, philanthropy, traveling, politics, science, and environmental awareness. The discovery of their project has made me more socially aware, and I’m sure similar online groups can get kids all over the world excited to learn.

Who are you excited about meeting at Science Online?  What do you hope to get from the experience?

I’m really excited about meeting  the subject of my interview, Seth Mnookin, as well as his fellow presenters Brian Switek, Sheril Kirshenbaum, and Maryn McKenna. Their panel discussion “Blogs as a Book Writing Tool” seems tailored made to my interests and the anticipation of going to their presentation is driving me crazy! More than just a name to drop on a college application or something to brag about, I truly want to go to Science Online for the educational and social experience of a lifetime. I know that it’s going to be one of the highlights of my high school career, and I can’t wait to board the plane!


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