I came across a seven-year-old at a lemonade stand along a walking trail. He was selling the beverage – and something much more important.
His sign said “$1: Lemonade and a great science lecture.” I recognize a good deal when I see one, so I purchased a cool drink and enjoyed a talk with a young man clearly inspired. At age seven.
I spoke with the boy’s parents. Neither had a technical background and they struggled with finding new ways to nurture the boy’s passion for science. My message to them was simple: “You don’t have to know why the sky is blue to inspire him. You just have to point him in the right direction.”
In my position as director of a national security science laboratory I come across many people inspired by science, technology, engineering and mathematics – what we call STEM. As a nation, we will need more of them. Unfortunately, I am also aware of others inspired by STEM who would use that knowledge to do harm to innocent people here or abroad.