Dec 23, 2020
This week, Tom is joined by special guest, Maya Ajmera, the President and CEO of the Society for Science & the Public and Publisher of its award-winning magazine, Science News.
In 1993, Maya founded The Global Fund for Children (GFC), a non-profit organization that invests in innovative, community-based organizations working with some of the world’s most vulnerable children and youth. She is also a celebrated children’s book author with more than twenty books under her belt. Recently, Maya was awarded the 2020 Public Service Award by the National Science Foundation.
In this conversation, Tom talks with Maya about social entrepreneurship, why science matters now more than ever, and her extraordinary journey through the world of science and impact. Maya highlights the importance of project-based learning, science fairs, equity in delivering science news, and providing all learners with the opportunity to become a scientist or engineer, and the Society for Science & the Public’s role in pushing these changes forward.
[:10] About today’s episode with Maya Ajmera.
[:53] Tom Vander Ark welcomes Maya to the podcast!
[1:00] Maya shares how she first became entranced with the world of science through duckweeds.
[3:00] Maya speaks about her experience both attending the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics and now being a trustee.
[4:25] About the mentorship program at the NC School of Science and Mathematics that led to Maya being recognized as one of the nation’s leading young scientists.
[5:31] Does Maya agree that every learner should have the opportunity to be a part of a science fair every other year from grades 6-12?
[6:42] How Maya’s organization has helped lead the science fair movement.
[6:59] Why science fairs are so beneficial to students’ learning.
[7:42] When and how Maya made the decision to switch from basic science to public policy, and eventually found The Global Fund for Children at only 24 years old.
[10:55] Maya speaks about leading the GFC for 18 years and why she ultimately decided to leave and become a professional lecturer and visiting scholar at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University.
[13:44] Why and how Maya took on her new role as President and CEO of the Society for Science & the Public.
[16:13] Maya further elaborates on the equity of the Society for Science & the Public and how they ensure equitable participation in their programs.
[19:02] Having taken over Science News during a time where it was very difficult to be a publisher, Maya shares how she has rethought and reworked the business model into becoming more sustainable and having a broader impact.
[22:03] As a society we are facing the challenge of an ever-present general distrust and disregard of science with the rise of social media. Maya shares how she thinks we can regain this trust back and how The Society for Science & the Public is playing a role in rebuilding an interest.
[24:17] What science learning could and should look like in school.
[27:57] About the incredible International Science and Engineering Fair by The Society for Science & the Public.
[28:45] The link between science education, entrepreneurship, and impact; and what we could be doing to introduce more young scientists to impact models (that could provide them with the opportunities to start companies, launch social enterprises, etc.).
[31:30] What areas of science is Maya most encouraged by right now?
[33:22] Maya’s advice for students that are interested in science.
[34:07] Tom congratulates Maya on winning the 2020 Public Service Award by the National Science Foundation.
[34:45] What’s next for Maya and The Society for Science & the Public?
[35:55] Where to find Maya and The Society for Science & the Public online.
[36:54] Tom thanks Maya for joining the podcast.
Mentioned in This Episode:
Society for Science & the Public
The Global Fund for Children (GFC)
International Science and Engineering Fair
Getting Smart Podcast Ep. 233: “Rebecca Parks on Learning and Exploring Through Nature and Science”
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