New York — Meet Justin Colon, a student at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan whose alter ego, “The Justonian,” is a TikToker whose videos on topics ranging from fossils to physics have gone viral.
“Everyone has an interest in science, so I think everyone should at least have the opportunity to learn it and have fun with it,” he says. “Because science is fun! And I feel like not many people remember that.”
After months of success on social media, the self-proclaimed ‘proud science nerd’ recently received the email of his life: an invitation from NASA for a front row seat in history at the rocket launch. Artemis 1.
The mission is described as an important first step towards NASA’s ultimate goal of returning astronauts, including the first woman and the first American of color, to the moon.
“To see the actual launch, which feels like a once in a lifetime thing to me…it’s so historic,” Colon said. “To say I’m here and to be able to film with NASA’s permission to be there is mind-boggling to me.”
Back here on Earth, Colon’s physics professor, Daniel Yaverbaum, says the sky’s the limit for this young scientist.
“His rocket, so to speak, was launched long before I knew him,” Yaverbaum said.
Colon, originally from New York, is a senior at John Jay.
He studies forensic science and has a knack for teaching subjects that seem daunting to most.
He uses TikTok as a way to reach those who would otherwise not gravitate towards this field of study.
“Whether it’s physics homework, reading comics or writing comics, he’s so genuinely joyful about what he’s studying,” Professor Yaverbaum said. “So that’s what stands out, and that’s why he bursts out sharing with everyone. And that’s what I think you can’t teach or fake.”
And teaching is exactly what Colon wants to do, using his talent to create an atmosphere of inclusiveness that inspires the next generation of great scientists.
“If I can give them that little spark of passion that could ignite a whole new love for them, that seems perfect,” he said. “It’s a dream job.”