There was a whole lot of science happening at the end of the hall and it was fascinating and got more so after Chris and Season had come into my office. They had transferred from a science-based high school and when we told them about our successful service learning "school-wide recycling project" they challenged those of us in the room with the question: Isn't there any other environmental issue you could take on? We all looked around the room and knew that other issue was just a couple of blocks away, our elephant, as you say, was and still is Tar Creek.
We took it on and I have carried on with it all these years... I began to have regrets.
Those regrets were the classes, the scientific background I didn't have and still don't have and have needed ever since when taking on the hard science questions that surround that creek and her superfund site.
So here it is an October evening and I am comparing the laboratory reports from Tulsa's Accurate Lab dated 17 days apart. The E coli levels are higher by 10 points and the findings from NEO Science lab and the Eastern Shawnee results on that and other harmful bacteria taken this summer and now into the fall needs to translate into a THING those recreating in our creek can clearly understand. But I have to clearly get it first, right?
The metal result numbers see-saw, high in one sample lower in the other. Both show levels of concern of metals that can't be welcome to a body if consumed.
Back in my high school in Big Spring, Texas, I out smarted myself. I was determined to graduate a year early and not tell anyone of my plan. That meant arranging my class load each year to get those extra credits, but making sure to take the required classes to get into college. The regret was Algebra II. It was a requirement to get into Chemistry, but it didn't fit into my plan unless I took it during the summer. One semester each summer. Not completed in time to get that Chemistry class in that would be helping me this evening as I sweat through trying to figure out how dangerous the water in Tar Creek is to the children swimming in it this summer and into the fall.
Wishing those science teachers down the hall from me could have read my mind and said, "come on in here, you are going to need to know how this works in your life as an environmental activist. Don't you know, girl?"
Science I have found really matters. And I have known that for a great long time.
My regrets caused me to know how to go-around. My go-around is finding real scientists to make sense of what looks like random numbers.
That is why Fridays I tune in to NPR and listen to a program they feature on science, called, what else? Science Fridays. Well, this Friday, you may hear a voice you recognize, because, gulp, that's me on there on your speaker, claiming this stuff is important and knowing the answers lie in the science. The hope is those in power will use it for the greater good, protect our youth, help this place and heal our environment.
Science matters. And you can get a dose of it every Friday.
Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim