Exploring the 'Edges of Science'
Robert Gray Middle School teacher Thom Powell releases a new book about his paranormal research
|CONNECTION PHOTO: KELSEY O'HALLORAN - Thom Powell has taught science at Robert Gray Middle School for 30 years. He recently released a new book about his paranormal research|
Thom Powell has dedicated his life to the teaching and study of science. But the Robert Gray Middle School science teacher is also drawn to the paranormal — and he doesn’t see that as a paradox.
“I understand that I’m working on the fringe, if not outside the boundaries, of science,” he says. “Science in its purest form not only tolerates exploring the frontier, but also requires it, invites it.”
That’s the idea behind Powell’s latest book, “Edges of Science,” which was published in June by Willamette City Press in West Linn. The book follows Powell’s past 20 years of paranormal research, including his study of Bigfoot, UFOs and crop circles.
Powell, who has taught at Robert Gray for 30 years and currently teaches eighth-grade Earth and space science, says he doesn’t incorporate his paranormal interests into many of his lessons. But he does teach a UFO lesson at the end of his astronomy unit, to hold students’ attention on the last day of school before winter break. His classroom is decorated with Bigfoot drawings and paraphernalia from his students, and he says his fascination with Sasquatch is often a subject of jokes with his students.
“It’s a safe topic for humor,” he says. And he doesn’t mind being the target of his students’ banter: “My Bigfoot jokes are better than their Bigfoot jokes.”
Powell’s book combines his own research with testimonies he gathered from people who said they’d experienced a paranormal event, such as one anonymous Hillsdale woman who believed she had been abducted by aliens.
He says he was surprised when people who he considered logical and level-headed approached him with their paranormal stories, and the parallels between the accounts intrigued him.
The people “didn’t fit into any category of kook or weirdo,” he says. “Are they misinterpreting something, or are they telling the truth?”
Powell in 2003 released his first book, “The Locals: A Contemporary Investigation of the Bigfoot/Sasquatch Phenomenon,” which focused specifically on his Bigfoot research. His latest book searches for connections between Bigfoot and all other paranormal phenomena.
He says that after more than two decades studying the paranormal, he’s OK with people thinking that he’s crazy; he knows that many scientists’ ideas weren’t embraced during their lifetime, either.
“If you’re going to venture into the frontier of science, you have to be prepared for not only scorn and derision, but also no fulfillment in your lifetime — but that’s OK,” he says.
For now, researching and writing about the paranormal — and being known as the local Sasquatch expert — is fulfillment enough.
Contact Kelsey O’Halloran at 503-636-1281 ext. 101 or firstname.lastname@example.org.