Thursday, 20 January 2011

Sharing a chemical moment in time

Went to an all girls event on Tuesday. The first one in this International Year of Chemistry. A breakfast for women chemists at Liverpool John Moores Uni. We skype linked with numerous other breakfasts from around the world and thought about how to get girls into chemistry.
Great presentation from Dr Helen Aspinall Liverpool Uni showing how once women are at uni there is very little difference gender wise in take up for undergrads.
Some super speakers sharing a schools point of view, the industry scene and then I talked about how to get the very young interested and to keep up interest in the non specialist.
It was certainly worth doing especially as this is the first event in a year of celebrations.
I think perhaps people like me have the hardest job - it certainly seems that once you choose chemistry there is nothing to stop you getting on in academia although industry still doesn't have enough senior women and anecdotal reports seem to say it is still very blokey. But getting girls interested in the first place is still hard - we are so influenced by the media and girls want to fit in so being a scientist especially a chemist is still just that little bit too strange.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Communicating science

Spent lots of last week in meetings or speaking about science communication.
First day back after the hols and I was off to Manchester to Centrescreens Productions to view the final edit of a fantastic DVD for primary teachers. The Royal Society of Chemistry North West Trust commissioned me and my great friend and colleague Lorelly Wilson ( to create something to inspire primary school teachers to have a go at hands on science in their classroom. We have all heard the tales of health and safety closing down science - NOT TRUE!!
These are just tales and lots of great teachers out there are having a go but there are also lots who are not sure where to start or what to do to make their science fun.
This is especially true in chemistry - which isn't called chemistry in primary school but Materials and their Proprieties - hey ho!
Anyway - Lorelly and I have put together this fun DVD full of clips of experiments to have a go at using little or no equipment and everyday household ingredients.
We had a wonderful time filming it and now it is almost ready... just a couple of days away from going into lots of schools in the North West for free.

Thursday lunchtime I was out at West Derby Rotary speaking about my work and sharing the joys of being a science communicator with the good folk of Liverpool. What a super bunch of people and thanks for the donation to Catalyst funds guys!

Friday and off I was again, this time to Chester to the School of Education to talk about a project we got involved in last year linking student teachers, schools and learning outside the classroom placements like us.
We worked with a school in Ellesmere Port giving their year 6 pupils a chance to make a real difference to our displays, notices and trails. The project is running again this year so I was sharing case study information with the prospective placements. Good luck everyone!