“I have too much to do. I just feel overwhelmed! What should I do?” When we ask for advice, we tend to ask for positive advice, not negative advice. What’s the difference? Positive advice tells you to do something; negative advice tells you not to do something. In the gym, people always ask what they should add to their workout. We want to make more money, instead of spending less. We want to know what healthy foods to add to our diet, not which bad foods we should subtract. We don’t want to disappoint anyone, so we agree to hang out with everyone, instead of focusing on a few friendships. We don’t want to be missing out on anything.
“[Science Outreach] has these two epic goals and is completing them together. It’s self-perpetuating awesomeness, basically,” explained Presence O’Neal, the newest staff coordinator of the science education program. Presence is the latest coordinator in the program’s 22 year history, and the first to not be a Reed alumnus. As for the two epic goals? “Reed students get teaching experience in the real world ... and simultaneously elementary students get mentors and exposure to science from people who look like them and care about their learning,” said Presence.
The first things I notice upon entering the Cooley Gallery are the balloons. There are about fifty of them clustered throughout the room, each one bearing a two-word phrase in stylized black script that stands out against the dark yellow rubber. I pick one up and peer at the lettering, which reads “Valiant Guardian.” Another is inscribed with the words “Urgent Fury.” Not until I find one labelled “Enduring Freedom” do I realize that each phrase is the name of a U.S. military operation carried out overseas. Near the back of the room, loud popping noises ring out as a television placed on the ground plays a video of a group of formally-dressed women puncturing yellow balloons. A glass case mounted at the side of the room displays a small vial of dark liquid; a card in the case informs viewers that the bottle contains “a new fragrance derived from ... materials described in the Book of Revelation.” On the wall opposite the door, an immense screen plays real-time webcam stills from locations as near as Idaho and as far as Thailand. The images from each place are organized into horizontal bars layered atop one another; the cumulative effect is of myriad landscapes seen simultaneously through the compound eye of an insect.