A large part of being a successful scientist is being interested and excited to share what you have learned. Sometimes you share this information with other scientists at conferences and special meetings, but it’s equally as important to share your knowledge with people in your community. After all, the policies, actions, and decisions that can protect or harm our world are often made by non-scientists or average citizens during political elections, conducting daily business, and in our everyday lives. Our featured scientist for October, has made a career out of sharing and explaining the details of our wonderful world, and he recently won the presidential award for excellence in mathematics and science teaching!
During his childhood in Mexico City, Juan Botella was inspired by famous scientists like Jacques-Yves Cousteau to investigate the world around him. He attended graduate school at M.I.T for oceanography, but found research too isolating. He quickly realized that his favorite part about science was “helping people understand what we think we know about how the world works,” and he decided to become a teacher. Now Juan teaches science at our local Monona Grove High School with a focus in physics, astronomy, climate and weather. His self proclaimed goal for his climate & weather course is to provide a “strong background in climate and weather so that [students] can participate knowledgeably in the scientific-political debates on these issues.” And, on top of a busy teaching schedule, he continues to follow his dream of becoming an oceanographer, travelling to Antarctica as a teacher-researcher, conducting projects such as studying changes in seawater properties due to climate change.
Juan works with local and national scientists to learn about cutting-edge science and research he can share with his students, such as partnering with the UW’s Cooperative Institute of Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS) as they prepare for the launch of the new GOES-R satellite this fall. Using a solar-powered weather station mounted on the roof of the high school, Juan and his students collect local data on rainfall, temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction, and solar radiation. The global patterns that both form and help us predict this climate data are a crucial part of meteorological studies, and this same data is collected on a much larger scale from CIMSS, NASA, NOAA, and weather satellites that orbit the planet.
It is only through the encouragement and opportunities provided by wonderful teachers like Mr. Botella that we can connect the dots between scientific research and our local environments and communities, creating and inspiring the next generation of scientists! What can you do to learn about and apply science into your everyday life?