Wednesday, August 28, 2013

What does failure mean?

As we have been working on our blog posts about the importance of Science and the Scientific Method, I keep stumbling upon big insights about the nature of Science. This is my response to some of you on the topic of Failure in Science.

Let's face it, no one likes to fail. Even worse, we (the grown-ups around you) are constantly drilling in you the need to succeed (AKA not fail); to get every answer correct. The reality is that failure is a part of life. In Science, experiments don't always go as planned, hypothesis are oftentimes dis-proven, the data we collect does not look right, or varies so wildly that we need to re-think what we are doing.

"Scientists fail all the time. We just brand it differently. We call it data." - Anissia Ramirez

In STEM, failure is very often our friend. Now, I'm not talking about committing to build a bridge, and not being exact in what you are doing so that the bridge, well, fails. I am talking about  the idea that failure leads to people trying harder and coming up with different solutions to a problem. STEM uses failure to teach us persistence and resilience. Failure is instructive to the design and innovation process; Trial and error (AKA "fail a lot") are the basis of innovation.

A failed experiment is only a fail if you stop and give up. If you attempt to do something and fail, but you keep trying and end up doing or producing producing something else, you have not failed; you have produced some other result. If you ask “What have I learned?” and “What have I done?”, you are paving the way for innovation.

Have the courage and strength to fail, pick yourself up and continue the journey!