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Historians in Motion, the Draw a Scientist test, and the 2016 AASLH 5K Fun Run

by Kat Burkhart, Executive Director/Curator Carnegie Museum of Montgomery County on

For the second year in a row when I registered for the AASLH/MMA Annual Meeting in Detroit, I also signed up for the 5K. I participated in the 2015 AASLH 5K in Louisville, KY as part of the Annual Meeting and conference. I enjoyed the run, and a lot of walking, truth be told, though it was early, the morning was beautiful and overall a fun experience. I felt proud of the fact that I got up early, completed it and now have the t-shirt to prove it.

 

2015 AASLH 5K Fun Run

2015 AASLH 5K Fun Run

I could use this post to talk about the beautiful riverfront in downtown Detroit, and how the 5K is going to give us a break from the sessions, a chance to get some fresh air and exercise, to see downtown Detroit at our own pace. But if you know me, you know I often have ideas straight out of left field. In thinking about what to write to promote the 2016 AASLH 5K in Detroit, I had a crazy idea. So here it is.

Detroit waterfront

Detroit waterfront

The History field has sometimes been accused of STEM/STEAM envy but there are issues I think we can learn from and apply to our cause from the science world. One is a study called the Draw a Scientist Test. For decades scientists have visited classrooms around the world and asked kids to draw a picture of a scientist.

Quick, draw a scientist and see what you come up with.

Is it an old guy with a white lab coat and crazy hair blowing himself up in a lab? A lot of kids drew their scientists that way…for over 50 years this has been the common stereotype of a scientist and the current science community is working vigorously on changing that attitude.

So, now for the History bit: Draw an Historian.

What do you come up with? A person in a cardigan or a tweed jacket with elbow patches? A stack of books or a dusty museum? Historians and museum folks come in all shapes, sizes, colors, genders, ages and many of us run…or walk fast in my case. Is that what is reflected in the picture? Do you think if we went to the school children of the world and asked them to draw us, they would come close?

Now draw that person, that Historian, RUNNING.

And not just the Indiana Jones stereotype, though that is a fun one. Draw them running for fun along the riverfront in Downtown Detroit, a city over 300 years old, full of history, stories of all kinds, historic architecture, and brimming with ideas. Take that image and run with it!

 

2015 AASLH 5K Fun Run

2015 AASLH 5K Fun Run

 

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