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Job Skills How do I get involved in Science early?

  1. Oct 16, 2016 #1
    I will be going to university next year to do biological sciences major for 1 year then move on to physics for 2 or 3 more years until I finish my bachelor for physics.
    however, I'm much more of a hands-on person. I love performing simple experiments at home and playing around with the results. I have a 9-year-old cousin who is very curious and I always make any science concepts simple and use everyday things to explain it to her.
    I don't mind if I'm just volunteering or unpaid work experience, I just want to develop these skills early and get involved either than university.
    Where do I start?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 16, 2016 #2
    I think you can ask professors if you can intern for them in their labs.
  4. Oct 17, 2016 #3
    yeah the professors said they don't do it for first-year undergrads at my university
  5. Oct 17, 2016 #4
    Ask a PhD employee supervising the practicals once you are in a practical.

    You are getting a little ahead of yourself when you start emailing a professor/PI/head of the lab asking for a project when you haven't even attended your first lecture yet.
  6. Oct 17, 2016 #5
    In that case, then in your field, background knowledge at that level is a must. unless you have a very good reason (e.g. I already taught myself the freshman stuffs), professors will hardly be convinced to change their mind.

    Another approach is to ask as many professors as possible (their field , of course, interests you). this however personally I would not suggest. I myself have A LOT of experience doing experiments that I have nearly zero theory knowledge in, frankly, not much physics I have learned in doing so. (though I did learn some experiment skills, but you can learn these skills sooner or later. as long as you are in a lab. It is not worth the time)
  7. Oct 18, 2016 #6
    There are some cultural differences that vary from one institution to another on how to get involved more quickly in research.

    For high school students, ISEF type science projects are a great path. Once in college, you should seek the advice of a local faculty member and follow it.
  8. Oct 24, 2016 #7
    My second week in college I approached my general chemistry professor and asked if I could "work" in his graduate research lab and specified I didn't expect to be paid, I just wanted experience. I worked in his lab for the next 4.5 years and never made a penny, but I did learn how to operate and maintain analytical instruments, got certified to operate a Class IV Nd-YAG solid state laser, had my name and work included in 4 publications and 3 PhD dissertations and presented a poster on "Forensic analyses in Undergrad Chemistry Labs" at a SERMACS conference. That work got me into grad school and has played a part in getting each of my 3 jobs since finishing school. I have also used that professor and the grad students I worked with (all now PhDs) as references on all my grad school and job applications and even on my Unescoted Site Access background check and psychological evaluation with the NRC. Long story short, my career is what it is today because of my experience in his lab. Definitely work/volunteer in a lab or for a professor if you can, they're also very accomodating of your academic schedule and needs, more so than a paid position would be.
  9. Nov 19, 2016 #8
    What did you specifically do with your Nd-YAG? I am hearing a lot of chemistry folks using it.
  10. Nov 22, 2016 #9
    Related to academic performance, you should practice doing science. This can be on your own (as a kid I studied the ants in our house and wrote a report detailing my findings) or within a research lab. Often there are summer projects in research labs even for high school students and once in university this is something you should actively pursue.
  11. Nov 22, 2016 #10


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    Very generally, you need to be curious about something - anything so that the materials and equipment can be obtained and to try doing something with them according to what you are curious. One of the things to try which seemed natural for me to try was to follow bread recipes, and intentionally change some of the ingredients, just to see what would happen. More recently, I tried making flatbreads using a basic standard set of ingredient quantities, but tried as many different kinds of flour as I could find. Same with the fats and oils.

    A more technical way to do something scientific also involving food could be beer brewing and wine making. These require much more care and preparation, so better for someone with a scientific interest. One reason: lack of cleanliness in preparation will lead to spoilage.
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