It’s no secret that I’m not a huge fan of children. They’re sticky, they’re loud and they’re annoying. That being said, the job descriptions given to us by Roy and Eileen from the Discovery and Great Hancock Museums would tempt even myself into a career working with children. The way that we present science to a modern audience has come so far since children learnt the periodic table in dusty classrooms and it couldn’t be better.
Not only are today’s museums aiming to form partnerships1 with local schools, they’re making even the adults feel like children again2. The idea that we remember what we enjoy is certainly a good one and bringing that sense of fun to children and adults alike sounds like the ideal career. Of course, no career comes without it’s challenges, but even then these seem like fun! Planning events and workshops for children, practical learning, holiday-themed events and creating installations. It’s like trying to sneak learning into playtime without anyone noticing, no wonder I always used to beg my mum to take me to the Natural History Museum every time we ventured into London.
I mean, Look at this!
It’s an entire wall of sound!
But even better, it’s an entire wall of sound made from live, unedited internet pages, chat forums and podcasts. And it’s music. An art installation in a science museum.
Who said art and science don’t go together?
1- http://www.twmuseums.org.uk/schools/projects.html (28/12/13)
2- http://www.twmuseums.org.uk/schools/great-north-museum/workshops (27/12/13)
3- http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/smap/art_on_display.aspx#1 (27/12/13)
A teacher at school once told me ‘if you can’t explain it to a 10 year old you don’t understand it yourself’. Since then I have applied this piece of knowledge on many occasions; be it from attempting to explain science to my mum (who studied art and English) and even using it as helpful revision tool.
A recent talk from Roy and Eileen, who work as education officers at the Discovery museum and the Great North museum, reminded me about expression. You could see, especially from Roy, how passionate they were about their jobs. They are responsible for the management and arrangement of workshops for children on school trips.
The benefit children can get from learning outside the classroom is immense, it enables children who might not thrive in the classroom maybe prosper in an alternate environment. However, it is essential they make these workshops exiting but also stick closely to the national curriculum.
Roy and Eileen made it clear they have to be able to engage with the children in a particular way to keep them interested; this is what made me think of my phrase. So even though they will be teaching the same topics they have to adapt their language accordingly.
It made me appreciate how fundamental the use of language is when it comes to communication, especially when it involves complex science.
As a child, my favourite four words were ‘glow in the dark’. I decided to find the answer to an almost lifelong question; how does it glow?
Things glow in the dark contain phosphors, which when ‘charged’ by a light source can reflect that light for around ten minutes. They are present in fluorescent lights, in which case ultraviolet light ‘charges’ the phosphors to make it glow brightly.
There are many types of phosphors out there, but zinc sulphide and strontium aluminate are mostly used in the production of toys. In plastic toys, the phosphors are mixed in to the plastic before being put in a mould.
There are, however, ways to keep the glow in the dark items glowing. Some watches with phosphors in the clocks hands have radioactive elements, keeping the hands glowing without the need to be charged.
A recent lecture by Karen Bridwell mentioned an article that left me intrigued. In the lecture she mentioned that the headline was due to governmental bodies stopping the use of a new IVF technique. The controversial title seems aimed to shock people into reading the article.
In this new IVF, small amounts of a second woman’s genome replaces damaged genes from the mother, meaning babies would have DNA from three people; two women and one man. An article by the telegraph points out that this DNA does not just affect the first generation, but every generation after.
Although the technique developers insist that the DNA that is swapped has no bearing on the child’s physical or physiological development, from a scientific standpoint I see it as having ethical issues. How long until this technique will be used to make ‘designer babies’, or does creating a healthy child in a lab constitute anyway?
Teach first is a UK based charity which believes every child should have access to a great education, regardless of their family background. Studies have shown that a huge proportion of ‘free school meals children’ do not gain any GCSE passes, heavily linking academic success to a higher family income. With an aim to combat this, teach first trains teachers on a two year developmental programme from inside schools, focussing on the STEM subjects.
Recently in a lecture about STEM ambassadors, I found how teaching is an excellent example of science communication. It involves aiming science at, not just non-scientists, but to young people.
As I am thinking of teaching as a career choice, the STEM subject focus of teach first is an ideal option for anyone interested in science communication as a career.