Sunday, November 6, 2011

Personal Research Style

This week is all about Research. Why is it Important? How is it useful? For my career in science, research is extremely important! Science is always changing and new discoveries or theories are found or accepted on a regular basis. Since it is my job to teach science to blossoming students, it is vital that I stay current.
My students like to affectionately call me a "science geek." So, it is obvious, science is my passion, particularly wildlife biology. Naturally, I spend most of my "research" time looking up ecological topics as well as anything that may be useful in my classroom. When it comes to research, I definitely take the scientific method approach: Always start with a question! Once I have a question, I will take it to the next level, by researching facts to answer that question. Recently, I heard about the Javan Rhino was officially extinct in Vietnam. The radio didn't give a lot of information, so it became a question I was eager to find out about.
Once I've determined to research something like the Javan Rhino extinction, I immediately go to the Internet. I, personally find the Internet a very useful tool when it is used the right way. If I'm using the Internet, I usually look at sites that contain a .org or .edu. This way I know there is some educational relevance to the material versus someone's personal opinion. In this case, I found the Telegraph an useful online newspaper that gives facts versus opinions.
Recently I purchased an iPad2, so research has become even faster and easier. One of my many apps is Wikinodes (a great research tool!!). When it came to the Javan Rhino, I just typed in "Javan Rhino" to my Wikinode app, and I was given tons of information!! This app not only gave me a lot of information, but it does so in a visually appealing concept map (perfect for visual learners like myself).
Once I found information, many times, I come up with new questions, this may require more extensive research. In this case, I will re-evaluate my research topic, and may change it. In the case of the Javan Rhino, I changed my question to "What steps are being done to conserve this species?" Due to this animal's extinction, it has sparked a passion in Rhino conservation. Along with finding legitimate research sites with .org/.edu, I have recently started to read blogs. Reading other people's thoughts and opinions is definitely a useful education tool as well. Because of this, I even accepted the International Rhino Foundation as a friend on Facebook. Because of this, I am showing support as well as possibly sparking the interest of others.
So in answer to the two questions from the beginning: Why is research important? and How is it useful? Research gives us relevant information that may help us learn about things outside of our daily lives as well as how we can make a difference in this world. In this digital era, research is definitely more useful because it gives us information with just a few clicks of mouse or an app. The real question is: Why not use research?

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