Lab coat on, pipette in hand and food colouring at the ready – last Saturday I was sporting a giant badge saying ‘I’m a scientist, talk to me!’ and ready to speak to the good people of Manchester about what it’s like to be a Cell Biologist. The event I was taking part in was run by fabulous Science Grrl in collaboration with Manchester Girl Geeks and it involved several female scientists descending on MOSI to chat to the visitors about what they do for a living. The rather awesome group included archaeologists, chemists, biologists, palaeontologists, geophysicists, material scientists, mathematicians and physicists. I think we definitely showed the scope and variety within science!
I kicked off the day by helping out in a Manchester Girl Geek workshop called soft electronics. I‘d never come across this before but it turns out you can buy conductive tread that allows you to sew circuits into material. There was some ace customisation going on in the workshop including indicators sewn onto cycling gear, T-shirt designs and some ScienceGrrl/Manchester Science Festival bag personalisation. Katie Stecks (@Stecks) provided some adorable stuff toys to act as pin cushions but pointed out we shouldn’t feel too bad about sticking needles in them. She revealed photographic evidence showing several had been caught up to no good, including tax evasion and using the last of her ketchup. Shocking behaviour. I still felt bad for Pikachu though.
Next up I did some rounds walking through MOSI. Whilst trying not to get distracted by the exhibits and activities I got chatting to a lot of people of all ages. All the Science Grrls had brought along pieces of gear from their research and I brought my trusty micro-pipette. Six to 60 years olds – everyone seemed quite keen to have a go pipetting my blue and yellow food colouring. I got smaller children to guess what colour blue and yellow would make if we mixed them together by pipetting. With older children and adults we compared 20μl to 5μl, which showed how accurate the micropipettes are.
After wondering into the main hall it was time to do a stint on the science soap box, telling passers by what my research is all about. I must admit I was a little nervous – I don’t mind public speaking but getting up on a soap box and just starting to talk seemed a quite daunting. With some encouragement from the other Science Grrls I got up and did my bit. I’m so glad I did – people sitting near genuinely seem interested!
With a few more laps round the museum the day was drawing to a close. By the time MOSI was about to shut I had to be nearly dragged from a conversation with two teenage girls. They were thinking of doing triple science at GCSE. They weren’t sure because they didn’t know if they were good enough at physics and they’d been moved down to set 2. I told them about my experiences at school studying triple science (generally good!) and how I know people who were in set 3 for science at school and went on to study Biology at The University of Manchester. Hopefully the girls will make the decision that is best for them but it was a great way to end the day, especially as organisations like Science Grrl and Manchester Girl Geeks are all about building young girls confidence in their ability to do science. To be part of day where we could go out and show people that science is for everyone was a fantastic experience.
Check out the sites for Manchester Girl Geeks and Science Grrl and or follow them on twitter/facebook:
Manchester Girl Geeks