Teachers, students stand for science

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Photos by: LA Alliance for Science

Ben Dahan News Editor

Photos by: LA Alliance for Science

Students and teachers together took a stand for science on April 14 at the second annual Los Angeles March for Science.

Thousands of people sporting signs with slogans like “Science not Silence” and “Do you have Polio? Me neither. Thanks, Science!” gathered at Pershing Square to protest the Trump administration’s seeming aversion to science, explore an expo of groups from rocket scientists to environmentalists and to hear a slate of speakers, including Senate-hopeful Kevin De Leon and astrophysicist Dr. Laura Danly.

Physics and environmental science teacher Emily Smith was among those who showed up to support science.

“If science doesn’t speak up and say something, then all those people will go on and let people starve, pollute our environment, neglect our world and it will be a catastrophe,” Smith said. “So I think it is important that scientists stand up and say science does matter.”

Last year’s inaugural march came in amid fears that the Trump administration would implement broad cuts in science research and regulatory agencies, like the Environmental Protection Agency. This year, however, the Congressional budget largely maintained, and in some cases even increased, science budgets, which Smith believes took the gas out of the movement.

For senior Sara Levin, the necessity of such events is discouraging, yet still worthwhile to participate in.

“The fact we even have to march for [science] is sad, but it’s something I’m willing to do for [the sake of] our future,” senior Sara Levin said.

Smith, who offered her students extra credit for attending the event, had hoped the march would be an educational exercise in the merits of evidence-based reasoning. Instead, she was disappointed to find that many of the speeches had purely political purposes.

“Politics is part of how we sheperd our world into the future, but the March for Science should be more about saying, ‘Here’s the science, here’s what we can do with it. Science matters,’” Smith said. “Not, ‘Here’s my agenda, here’s my agenda, here’s my agenda.’”

Some of the messages resonated with the students in attendance. Junior Alex Suljic was particularly struck by the call to action by a pair of teenage twins.

“There were these two kids, they were 13, who were in college,” Suljic said. “They were appealing to the new, young generation to get involved.”

Nevertheless, Smith believes it was worthwhile for her students, and young people in general, to turn out to the march.

“The fact that young people are [at the March for Science} and really understand science is important because they are the future,” Smith said. “For other people to see students involved in this shows that this does matter and that it can make a difference in the world.”

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