Meet a Local Scientist: August 2017

Casey Giordano

Casey Giordano

Where do you work and what is your position?

I've been a high school science teacher for 16 years. I currently teach Chemistry but I've also taught Earth Science and Biology.

Describe your work.

I'm pretty sure everyone knows what a science teacher is, but I feel like my job has taken on greater importance in the last 5 to 10 years because of the general anti-science sentiment in the United States. I think most of that sentiment comes from people not understanding how science works so I constantly try to present the best product I can in my classroom, regardless of what subject I'm teaching

Where did you go to school? Describe your path to your current position.

I studied geology as an undergraduate at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and did my masters in secondary education at Molloy College. After I graduated from UNCW, I was an intern at the United States Geological Survey in Reston, VA. From there I worked as a consultant contracting for the United States Army Corps of Engineers, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the Environmental Protection Agency. The teaching job kind of fell in my lap right before I got married and I thought it would be fun (and I'm not going to lie — the prospect of having summers "off" was alluring). 16 years later here I am!

What is the best part of your job?

That's easy. Any time a student has an "ah ha!" moment. Imagine you teach someone about all of the parts of a car without telling them it's a car and they suddenly realize, "Hey! These parts make a car! That's awesome! I never knew that!"

Describe a typical day at work for you.

"Being teacher is like riding a bike. Except the bike is on fire, you're on fire, and everything's on fire."

Why do you love science?

Because it provides the framework to answer any question and potentially solve any problem.

What advice would you give to people interested in a career in science?

Take a geology class! Seriously though, diversify. I went to college knowing I wanted to major in marine biology. I didn't even know geology was a thing. I had to take a geology class as a prerequisite, loved it, and wound up majoring in it. Speaking of loving it, know from the get go, you're probably not going to make a lot of money doing pure science, but loving what you do goes a long way in life. And if you're concerned about job prospects as a scientist, seriously consider minoring in secondary education. If you have trouble finding a job and/or making a living as a scientist, we are in desperate need of good science teachers in this country. And you get the summers off.

What is your favorite scientific fact?

Just one?! I'm reading a book right now about the "Big Five" — the five worst mass extinction events in Earth history (it's called "The Ends of the World" by Peter Brannen if you're interested), so I have geology on the brain. There are a couple of things in the world of geology that blow my mind every time I think about them. First the Earth is 4.6 BILLION years old. That is an inconceivable amount of time. Just try to envision it. I'll wait. Crazy, right?! Now, think about that inconceivable 4.6 billion years. Earth was completely lifeless for about the first 4 billion years. Nothing. Not a sniff of life. That means that everything (EVERYTHING!!) that has ever lived or currently lives on this planet evolved in only about 500 million years - only 20% of the time the planet has existed!

Tell us a bit about yourself that is not related to science.

I live the life of a pretty typical dad. But I still love driving around with my windows open and blasting Rancid as loud as it'll go on my stereo.

What is your favorite thing about Long Island?

I'll really miss bagels and pizza when I move.