To the Editor:
I’ve just seen a movie that left me both inspired and deeply depressed. It’s called “Science Fair,” and I would like to take all our Republican legislators, cabinet officials and the president, chain them to their chairs and make them watch it.
They will see a documentary about the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), which brings together exceptional high school students from all around the world to introduce and explain their innovative ideas, concepts and inventions in the physical and biological science fields to a panel of prestigious judges from those fields. It is exhilarating, poignant, funny and awe-inspiring to follow these students from their various countries and backgrounds as they move through the various levels of competition to finally arrive in Los Angeles and the final judging.
How could this movie be depressing, you ask? It is depressing to hear how one American high school totally failed to support a gifted Muslim girl student who had a brilliant idea for a project but could find no science teacher to sponsor her and had to ask the coach of the extremely well-funded, yet losing, high school football team to be her sponsor. Then, when she had won a top honor and came back home, her school never even acknowledged her accomplishment.
It is depressing when one thinks of the systematic derision that is heaped upon the scientific community by our president and his party, the appalling cut backs in funding for scientific research and the replacement of real scientists with political hacks in some of our most crucial departments. (Think the evisceration of the EPA under Scott Pruitt and the censorship of terms such as climate change or global warming). As of July 2018, the EPA had rolled back 46 rules and started work on 30 more affecting toxic substances, mining and extraction, water purity, air quality and so much more.
Where other countries celebrate and encourage their young scientists, under Trump, our students get the clear message that America doesn’t value them or their unique gifts. Within the minds of these students might be the solutions to many of our world’s most serious threats. One ISEF student was working to halt the Zika virus; another had found a quick and inexpensive test for pancreatic cancer and ovarian cancer; another developed a better way to measure arsenic in water. Ironically, the Trump Administration has just decided to allow more arsenic in water.
See the movie, agitate and elect candidates who support science on Nov. 6.
— Judy Hughes, Blue Bell