The Time of My Life

Growing up in New York City, I never in my wildest dreams thought that I would spend almost 50 years first studying and then teaching geology. My interest, and now passion, for the subject did not ignite until my sophomore year at NYU, when I was advised to take science, humanities, and social science courses as an undecided major. Geology, unknown to me at the time, sounded less threatening than chemistry and physics, so I chose to take...

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Conversing with the World

Conversing with the World

On a slim bookshelf in the corner of the room, I spy the bright green cover of Letters to a Young Artist. It’s a collection of letters written by established artists offering advice to a young novice. On page 69 I find sculptor John McCracken telling me: “You can’t be completely alive unless you’re conversing with the world.” This conversation begins in the immediate space of my office. I watch two blue jays interact outside my window;...

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A License to Play … And Not Get It Right

A License to Play … And Not Get It Right

My colleagues in elementary-school education convinced me years ago that “scientists are born in kindergarten.” These friends have always been emphatic: before the stigma of what is currently considered to be cool or the concept of failing grades set in, young children are curious and rather fearless. They experiment through play and are not particularly concerned about “getting it right” the first time. As a practicing engineer and an...

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