Can we create a training program for science ?
In sport, there are specific skills and it is fairly easy to create related training drills for improvement. Plus, sports don’t usually dramatically change in a short time. Hockey players don’t suddenly have to learn how to swim. But scientific research techniques are always mutating. My mad wet lab skills from 2003 are probably obsolete for 2011. What skills would we want to improve in a training program ?
Many people have written about the skills needed as a scientist, including those who contributed to this post at the PostDoc Forum. My quick list :
- critical thinking and planning skills to develop good research questions
- good hands to do the work
- writing skills to communicate the work
- teamwork/people skills to collaborate and manage staff
- excitement to keep going (drive)
- work ethic to show up even when it sucks (discipline)
As you can see, most of the list is about talent but those are the things that can be improved. The drive and discipline are internal but we may be able to help students find ways to cultivate these traits.
How do you set up a training program for these skills? Is it math and engineering competitions? Science fairs? Doing experiments like the elementary students who published their work on bees?