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  • Writer's pictureFrederike Schmitz

Changing your perspective: how can you think and feel something about science?

Updated: Apr 23, 2021

Photo by Adam Nieścioruk on Unsplash

By now I had written several pages about what happens when the first microorganisms settle onto your skin, in your guts, lungs and any place that has some contact to the outside world and how your immune cells react to that.

But that was science written for adults, not kids.

I wanted to write something for children- a story.

Because I was struggling with this quite a bit, I routinely had to remind myself why I was making my life complicated for no apparent reason.

Here’s why.

I want to change your perspective; what you think and feel about your own immune cells.

Stories are a very powerful tool to do this.

Most content about science is written from the human perspective, a narrator who objectively describes a scientific topic. You see this back in most science books which describe science from ‘above’ (“this is what it looks like, how it works”). This however also creates a certain distance to the topic.

This distance can be bridged when you, the reader finds the topic really interesting- say a book about dinosaurs for young kids.

What are other ‘tricks’ to get you emotionally involved with science?

Humor (e.g funny facts, funny topics such as the intestine) and/or art can be a great way to infuse emotions into an otherwise dry science topic. Photographs and illustrations can often evoke emotions. Often it helps to 'simply' visualize something that you can't see with your own eyes.

Have a look at this web exhibition with stunning real-life pictures of your immune cells and their enemies. Have you ever seen such pictures before? What do you feel when you see them?

Another great example is poetry about science. Like this poetry challenge from the human cell atlas.

Another, I believe very powerful approach is to choose the perspective of subject itself. In my case the cells. That should make it easier to introduce you, the reader to their world.

So, you can ‘feel’ something about them.

This is essentially how I myself learned facts in immunology.

I saw the cells as characters, with their own life. They are born, they die, they travel, they meet, they fight, they communicate. Things we do too. Things we can relate to. That’s why I wanted to write science stories. To relate to science through a story.

You should appreciate their ingenuity (immune cells indeed have superpowers) and at the same time become friends with them. After all they are your allies in the fight against bad microbes and when your own cells go awry, that is turn into cancer cells.

But you should also worry about them a little.

After all they are still vulnerable (pretty much the opposite of superpowers) and might not always succeed.

Once you feel this, you might appreciate your own health more – which is in essence a delicate balance that needs to be achieved every day of your life.

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