Sunday, April 29, 2012

Science Sunday

Today my wife Shannon hosted a Science Sunday event. She wanted to do something for the older children in the Dallas Brights Family Meetup. She set up eight stations throughout the house with hands-on projects:
  • Attractive Ballons
  • Bending Light
  • Changing Solid to Liquid
  • Coffee Can Magic
  • Let's Make a Polymer
  • Raise the Raisins
  • Sink the Orange
  • Tornado Tube
Some of the parents in attendance volunteered to host future Science Sundays or create science stations so hopefully we can keep this going as a regular event.

While the children were engaged with experiments, I pulled the parents aside to show them my latest discovery, the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2011 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates. I have the first seven pages of this taped to the side of our refrigerator with the entries sorted by annual mean wage. The lesson of this station is clear: it pays to have a medical degree.

If you have a child who is interested in becoming an academic research scientist, you might warn them that after many years of graduate school at poverty level wages only about half successfully earn their doctorate and only about one in eight eventually finds a faculty position. For an equivalent number of years in medical school, a Medicinae Doctor (M.D.) graduate is looking at guaranteed employment at three or more times the wages of the Philosophiae Doctor (Ph.D.) graduate lucky enough to land a research position.

And that is not to say that M.D. graduates cannot do research. If you compare the salaries of M.D. research faculty to Ph.D. research faculty at the same medical research institution, it quickly becomes clear that although both groups are doing science, one group is being paid substantially more than the other. If you have a budding scientist in your family, you might want to nudge them in the direction of a Medical Scientist Training Program.