Cool Careers in Science

For anyone who likes to make discoveries, solve problems, or be creative, or who has an insatiable curiosity about the natural world, many important and exciting careers in science, engineering, and technology await you. You could, among many options, help clean up the environment, solve crimes, create software to help kids understand their emotions, develop healthcare products, or build robots! Learn more about cool careers in these videos, which include profiles produced by WGBH Boston Media Productions for Science City, a multimedia celebration of science and technology, together with career profiles drawn from other collections.

  • Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence: Are We Alone?

    As far as we know, only one planet has life on it—Earth. But is it really possible that our planet is the only life-bearing planet in the entire universe? Some scientists believe that extraterrestrial life does exist, and some even believe that there may be advanced alien life. In this video segment adapted from NOVA, learn about the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI).

    Grades: 6-12
  • Career Profile: Associate Scientist Andres Berrio

    Andres Berrio is an associate scientist with the biotechnology company, Biogen. In this video produced by WGBH, Andres talks about his career path, his background as an unmotivated student, the guidance counselor who helped turn his life around, his discovery that he liked learning, and what it takes to succeed in the biotechnology field.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Antarctic Ice Movement (Part 1 of 2)

    With more than 29 million cubic kilometers (7 million cubic miles) of ice and snow, the Antarctic Ice Sheet is so massive that its weight depresses the underlying crust by 900 meters (nearly 3,000 feet). New snow that collects on the ice sheet's surface causes the ice beneath it to spread out and move along the slope of the land. In this video segment adapted from NOVA, a team of glaciologists carves into one glacier on the East Sheet to monitor the nature and speed of its movement.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Ask an Engineer

    The engineer's primary role is to develop practical solutions to society's many and varied needs. This video from the Sciencenter in Ithaca, New York, shows that engineering work — which requires creativity, a knack for problem solving, and lots of training — is seldom boring and can be highly rewarding. An engineer's challenge might be to maintain healthy water conditions for aquarium inhabitants. Another's work may be isolated from public view and involve the cutting edge of technology. This resource is useful for introducing components of Engineering Design (ETS) from the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) to grade 3-12 students.

    Grades: 3-12
  • Solar Eclipses

    Every now and then, the Sun, Earth, and Moon align so that, when viewed from the Earth, the Moon eclipses the Sun's light. Solar eclipses are fairly common -- the Moon will block out some portion of the Sun at least twice a year. However, it is still a special event to be able to witness a total solar eclipse. In this video segment adapted from NASA, learn how solar eclipses happen and why they are so difficult to witness. This video is available in both English and Spanish audio, along with corresponding closed captions.

    Grades: 3-8
  • Careers in Advanced Manufacturing Technologies

    This interactive activity produced by WGBH looks at five possible career paths in advanced manufacturing technologies: design and development; production and quality assurance; inventory and distribution; health, safety, and environment; and installation, maintenance, and repair. Learn about the education and experience required for jobs such as model maker, industrial designer, machinist, quality control inspector, storage and distribution manager, purchasing agent, environmental science and protection technician, industrial safety and health engineer, industrial machinery technician, and industrial electronics technician.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Forensic DNA Analysis

    This video segment from NOVA: "The Killer's Trail" follows a team of experts as they investigate the forensic evidence from the 1954 murder of Marilyn Sheppard, one of the most famous unsolved crimes in U.S. history.This video is available in both English and Spanish audio, along with corresponding closed captions.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Taking the Earth's Temperature

    This video segment from FRONTLINE/NOVA: "What's Up with the Weather?" follows groups of climate researchers collecting temperature data from a wide range of locations in an effort to determine the current rate of global climate change relative to climate shifts of the distant past.
    Grades: 9-12
  • Permian-Triassic Extinction

    Geologist Peter Ward shows rock layers laid down during the Permian and Triassic periods, in this video segment from Evolution: Extinction! The Permian layers contain abundant animal fossils and fossilized traces of animals, while the Triassic layers are almost devoid of fossils, suggesting a mass extinction event occurred 250 million years ago, at the end of the Permian.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Collecting Data Below the Earth's Surface

    Underwater surfaces and subsurfaces are mapped for environmental and commercial reasons, including marine and coastal resource management, navigational charting, and oil and gas exploration. In this video segment adapted from Discovering Women, geologists employ special acoustic devices to learn what lies beneath the water...and deeper still. They hope to use the specialized maps they create to learn more about what is driving the western part of the North American plate to split apart.
    Grades: 6-12
  • Mystery Mud: Exploring Changes in States of Matter

    Many of us have seen water change from a solid to a liquid and from a liquid to a gas, and we know that other substances undergo similar transformations (although often under more extreme conditions). What these changes have in common is a change in temperature, a result of either heating or cooling. In this video segment, produced for Teachers' Domain, students visit a lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where scientists study a substance that changes state without a change of temperature.

    Grades: 3-8
  • Careers in Plastics

    Learn about career opportunities in the plastics industry in this video segment adapted from Pennsylvania College of Technology and WVIA. Visit NPE: The International Plastics Showcase, the biggest plastics gathering in the world, and meet some people from the industry. Hear how different academic degrees can lead to different types of positions within the plastics industry. In addition, learn how emerging technologies such as recycling and bioplastics are a part of the sustainability and environmental movement.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Robot Race

    Creating a robot capable of safely navigating its environment without human intervention has been a goal of engineers ever since they first conceived of robots nearly 50 years ago. Despite rapid advancements in technology, however, engineers did not succeed in the task of designing autonomous robots until recently. This video segment adapted from NOVA follows two teams as they push their engineering design skills to the limit to develop systems that allow cars to drive themselves in the 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge.
    Grades: 3-12
  • Careers in Engineering Technologies

    In this interactive activity produced for Teachers' Domain, investigate three possible career paths in engineering technologies--research and development; manufacturing and construction; and inspection, testing, and repair. Explore each path to learn more about the education and experience required for particular jobs such as drafter, materials testing technician, chemical engineering technician, civil engineering technician, robotics technician, manufacturing engineering technologist, aerospace engineering technician, electronic engineering technician, and non-destructive testing technician.

    Grades: 6-12
  • The Sequencing Race Begins

    A look at the life and motivations of J. Craig Venter, the president of Celera -- the company that many say won the race to decode the human genome -- and the innovator of a revolutionary gene-sequencing technique. From NOVA: Cracking the Code of Life.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Levers: Raising the Moai on Easter Island

    A team of archaeologists and engineers tests one theory of how the ancient peoples of Easter Island (Rapa Nui) might have transported a massive statue, called a moai, from cliff-top quarry to coastal perch and then raised it to an upright position. Levers are simple machines that can help amplify lifting force. As the scientists and local participants discover, even with the mechanical advantage of a lever, the challenge is decidedly difficult and extremely time-consuming. Video segment adapted from NOVA.

    Grades: 5-12
  • Careers In Biotechnology

    In this interactive activity produced by WGBH, learn about the vital role biotechnology professionals serve in health care, and explore the wide range of jobs available in the following career paths: research and development, manufacturing and production, quality control and assurance, and clinical research. Read job descriptions, education and experience requirements, and testimonials from people working in entry-level as well as senior-level positions.

    Grades: 8-12
  • Blood Vessels Help Tumors Grow

    This video segment adapted from NOVA, features cancer researcher Dr. Judah Folkman and describes his approach to proving a new idea he had about how tumors grow inside the body. His idea focuses on angiogenesis, the formation of new blood vessels. Dr. Folkman designed experiments to test his central hypothesis and thus prove the support mechanism behind tumors.

    This video is available in both English and Spanish audio, along with corresponding closed captions.

    Grades: 6-12
  • HIV Immunity

    Excerpted from NOVA: Surviving AIDS, this video segment showcases the work of Drs. David Ho and Stephen O'Brien. By examining the "outliers" -- in this case, people like Steve Crohn, whose cells repeatedly resisted HIV infection -- Ho and his colleagues found a genetic mutation that prevents the HIV virus from entering the cell. This video segment includes animation of HIV entering a white blood cell through the CD-4 and CCR-5 receptors on the cell's surface. Some individuals have no CCR-5 gene, which means that HIV cannot enter their cells. Scientists are using this new information in the development of an AIDS treatment.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Kismet: the Social Robot

    Researchers in the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory working to engineer smarter robots are now building a machine that interacts socially with people in this video segment adapted from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
    Grades: 3-12