Tyler Alterman


This Mobile 'Think Tank' Will Give Science Experiments Street Cred

The Think Tank is a a lab-on-wheels bringing neuroscience to a school and sidewalk near you.


Before I tell you why you should fund a lab-on-wheels called The Think Tank, I want to tell you a tale of two mysteries. Mystery one: Why I didn’t become a scientist. Mystery two: Why I did become a scientist.

From my father to my great-great-Ukrainian grandfather, I come from a long line of New York detectives. As a child I aspired to continue the family tradition, but way, less Bogart than Boyle: I wanted to be a scientific detective. My mother would have to pry my nose out of soy sauce-stained books on Stegosauri whenever we went out for Chinese.

But ten years later, I hated science. You probably did too. As you and I climbed mountains of scientific facts for multiple choice tests, we imagined that the only folks who could do this for a living must be people with pocket protectors and sad, sterile lives. So, we did not become scientists.

But now, I study the mind and brain—as a scientist. I became scientist because I was eventually taught what science is truly like by meeting scientists, and by doing science.

What kinds of people are scientists? My fellow researchers are opera singers, artists, filmmakers, and rock musicians. But they have one strand in common: curiosity. What’s abuzz in my brain when I learn? Does hand sanitizer actually work? Why do some grassroots campaigns succeed while others fail? They have questions they want answered so badly, that they’ll use any tool available to get the best answers. It’s not about facts and figures, but the figuring.

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