Visiting science classrooms and watching students engaged in discovery and exploration is always exciting. One “silver lining” in the pandemic crisis cloud has been the opportunity for everyone to see science happening in real time.
I vividly recall the conversations occurring among my colleagues last February. The COVID-19 pandemic was upon our nation and our state. We craved any information that would help us understand this “novel” virus or what might happen in the days and weeks ahead. At that point, we were not actually considering the possibility of it taking more than a year to return to normal. We were wondering if and when our schools may be closed and for how long. Then one colleague shared that epidemiologists had told her it was likely our schools would be closed for a year or more … and there was stunned silence.
A few months later, as the state of Maryland was still operating under “stay at home” orders, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan released a Roadmap to Recovery that outlined a phased approach based on achieving certain benchmarks, including treatment and vaccines for COVID-19. The original projection for vaccine development was 18 months. The prediction from epidemiologists became even more real.
Scientific research is by design an iterative process that demands learning from mistakes. It takes time to find a solution and any new discovery requires validation. As I reflect on the many news reports documenting the next step in understanding COVID-19, finding better ways to treat the virus, and ultimately announcing the development of vaccines, it has been a year of watching scientific research happen. The successes and the challenges played out in the media, and hopefully gave all of us a deeper respect for the importance of scientific research.
Within a year, scientists had identified treatment options and developed a vaccine for COVID-19. It is truly amazing! And we can see that the work does not end as variants are identified and new treatment options continue to be explored. All of us have witnessed the impact of scientific research and the importance of perseverance in seeking solutions. I hope we are inspired!
Whenever a student asks a teacher why she needs to study the scientific method, I think the “real-world” answer is happening right in front of us! Thanks to every scientist, engineer, and manufacturer who participated in the research and development of vaccines and treatments for COVID-19. You have given us hope in this crisis, and have been role models for the next generation!