Science Solitaire

[Science Solitaire] You are only OK if nature is OK

Maria Isabel Garcia
[Science Solitaire] You are only OK if nature is OK
There is no flash of time where humans did not depend on nature

With so many things beyond one’s control, it is empowering to repeat to oneself that “happiness is an inside job.” But that is only absolutely true if you are some ancient bacteria that is able to survive billions of years through changing conditions.  “Happiness is an inside job” is a great mantra if you can live without air, water, land and the things that grow and nourish you. With all the bravado of 21st century technology, we have not come up with technology that can replace nature.

When the pandemic shut down The Mind Museum, a nonprofit science museum, in 2020, we focused not on what would be easy to do BUT how to best serve learning for Filipino kids and families. Everyone was turning online so that was an option but we were also keenly aware of the vast majority, who by early 2020, still did not have online access, or if they did, they only had very limited data access that they would not be able to prioritize it to access learning. So boldly, we chose to go on television to do a science show called MIND S-COOL so that Filipino families can access it for free.

We chose to produce science shows because The Mind Museum champions the liberating view that science is not a mere “subject” in school that attracted only geeks but a reliable way of looking and knowing the world, yourself and others. That is why the museum is designed and organized the way it is – intriguing, enchanting and most of all, celebratory. 

“Science” is not the only way of knowing BUT it is a way you cannot miss because it is rooted in physical and tested realities. Thus, science is not really for the gifted but the “gift” itself that is available to all of us. Shaking hands with science that way makes us no beggars for discovery and most of all, for understanding.

We had good ratings for Seasons 1 and 2 in 2020 and 2021 re-introducing the lens of “science” to Filipino families starting with the most basic of questions: “What is everything made of?” For those 2 seasons, we worked to prime our audiences in the way science approaches questions. That is why for Seasons 3 and 4, with a great partner – Cignal which airs MIND S-COOL TV on their OnePH channel,  we were ready to explore with and for Filipino families, the natural cradle of our cultural identity – Philippine biodiversity.

The theme for Seasons 3 and 4 is “I am biodiversity and biodiversity is me” – to remind ourselves that we are all connected to nature 24 hours a day even if many of us behave like we live inside our screens. Our partner for these 2 seasons is USAID under their Sustainable Interventions for Biodiversity, Oceans, and Landscapes (SIBOL) project that “supports the sustainable management of the country’s natural resources and combat environmental crimes.” USAID has been an outstanding partner for these shows under this theme which enabled us to work very closely with excellent Filipino scientists, 2 of whom, Dr. Aldrin Mallari and Dr. Rina Rosales, also appear in MIND S-COOL TV.

There is no flash of time where humans did not depend on nature. And “nature” is not simply about our generic notions of “trees”, “mountains”, “beaches”, “plants and animals” but complex cradles of lives – both of living and non-living. “Complex” because nature is not about individual cute or fascinating animals or plants BUT about how all living and non-living elements are connected to give rise to the life-support system that we all depend on.

It is the “dance of joy” moment of any science engagement organization like The Mind Museum to know the reach and impact of any of their efforts to shape minds for the better when it comes to thinking and living with nature. Season 3 results just came out and showed us that MIND S-COOL is indeed reaching millions, with a strong results for “collective viewing”, i.e., families watching it together and with kids aged 2 to 12. That is the age where it really matters. That is the age where we can breed a new generation of Filipinos who will not see “nature” or “science” as something separate from themselves but “second nature” to them.

We can only be ok if nature is ok. Science engagement organizations like The Mind Museum would only be genuine if they walked their talk. MIND S-COOL, with our partners, helped us champion what is at the root of our “science’ – it is nature. We Filipinos, are living with one of the 30 most exuberant pockets of life systems in the world. And because we largely think we just live “in” it – an “in-side job”– by accident of our birth, we never learned how to live “with” it. MIND S-COOL hopes to help change that mindfully, a season at a time. –

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