On Becoming a Scientist
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Video Guide

Video Objectives

  • To give a basic understanding of who scientists are and what they do.
  • To dispel some of the misconceptions that the general public may have about science and scientists.
  • To convey what scientists find appealing and challenging in their jobs.
  • To present some of the skills that scientists apply in their jobs.
  • To interest student viewers in possible careers in science.


About the Video

On Becoming a Scientist provides a look at the work, lives, and motivations of three students and a lab manager who are pursuing careers in science. During the course of these interviews, the video helps dispel some of the misconceptions that many people have about science and scientists. Interspersed throughout the video are comments from already established scientists and people working in the scientific community about the reasons why scientists do what they do.

The video is divided into seven main segments--There's Always One Last Thing; Grades? What Grades?; Making a Difference; Cooperation is Key; Not a 24-Hour Thing; Managing a Career and Family; and Making Movies. Each segment focuses on one of the students and a particular aspect of that student's life and work.

There's Always One Last Thing introduces Aneil Mallavarapu. In this segment, Aneil reveals some of the qualities scientists have, such as being patient when dealing with problems and unexpected setbacks, and always being ready to try again.

Grades? What Grades? presents Aaron Straight, who points out that a person doesn't have to make straight A's in school to be a scientist. He also discusses why he enjoys doing science.

The Making a Difference segment focuses on Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo and how her work at a homeless medical clinic allows her to use science to contribute to and affect people's lives.

In Cooperation is Key, Aneil discusses how and why the scientists he works with cooperate with each other.

In the Not a 24-Hour Thing segment, Dana Smith and Aaron Straight discuss the types of things they do outside the laboratory, and how those activities help them maintain a sense of perspective about their work.

Managing a Career and Family returns to Kirsten, who is starting a family while she is still in medical school. In the segment, Kirsten talks about her decision to have a baby and how she thinks it will affect her career.

In the final segment, Making Movies, Aneil describes how he managed to overcome his earlier setbacks. He also summarizes his thoughts on what science is and what scientists do.

Discussion Questions

  1. Before viewing the video, describe what you think a scientist is and what scientists are like. Then, after viewing the tape, discuss how your impressions may have changed.

  2. Why might a person become a scientist? What are some of the advantages of doing science? What are some of the disadvantages?

  3. What skills do you think that a scientist would need to have? Why? How might each of those skills be useful to a scientist?

  4. Do you think you would like to be a scientist? Why or why not?



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