Perception of Aerospace Engineering in Female Students – Research

As 2SistersinSTEM we are incredibly interested in the perception of STEM in young people. I specifically am intrigued by the current thoughts and perception of Aerospace Engineering in female identifying students.

I am studying Aerospace Engineering at university and an one of very few females on my course. I am currently looking into how to encourage more females into Aerospace and would really appreciate it if you could help me out!

Currently I am conducting research into the perception of Aerospace Engineering in female students aged 11-18. Below I have added the Google Form so if you are within the target group I would love it if you could answer the following questions.

I would be incredibly thankful if anyone could share the link to the form so that it reaches more people! I have linked the questionnaire here and would greatly appreciate it if you could share it with teachers, parents and people of the target group!

Thank you so much for completing the form or sharing!

Maisie

2SistersinSTEM

Follow Our Blog!

Enter your email address below to get our new posts delivered straight to your inbox!

Why Is Science Communication Important?

Hi! It’s Lily again – and today I am going to be talking all about Science Communication or Sci Comm for short.

What is Science Communication? Who are Science Communicators? And crucially why is Science Communication important?

Keep reading to find out more …

What is Science Communication?

Science Communication is the practice of communicating science-related topics to non-experts. This often encompasses the communication of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) topics which we have discussed before.

The communication of science can take many forms, from written articles in newspapers, magazines and blogs to standing in front of a non-expert audience to give a lecture or leading an interactive science workshop for children. 

Sometimes science communication is known by other terms such as:

Public Engagement – this usually aims to engage the general public in two-way scientific conversations, about shared issues and problems, to hopefully benefit society as a whole.

Outreach – these activities are usually seen as public lectures, activities and workshops to encourage the public understanding of science and scientific research and are also often used to encourage school children to take up STEM study in higher education.

Science communication is so varied and vast in what it encapsulates …

Reference: https://www.big.uk.com/scicomm

What is the history of Science Communication in the UK?

In the UK Science Communication came to prominence in the 1980s. The scientific community was concerned that Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government had adopted a policy for scientific research that prioritised projects with quick-rewards over those of a more fundamental, ‘pure science’ nature.

It was felt this short-term approach was due to a failure of politicians and the wider public to understand STEM. More ‘public understanding of science’ was needed. So in 1985 the Royal Society published a report on ‘The Public Understanding of Science’, referred to as the Bodmer Report.

This report was pivotal, firstly it stated that scientists should consider it their duty to communicate to others about their work and its importance. Bodmer led to the creation of the Committee on Public Understanding of Science (COPUS), which organised funding schemes for Science Communication activities. Handing out prizes for new initiatives including ‘popular science’ books—of which there followed quite a boom, led by Stephen Hawking’s 1988 Brief History of Time.

In 1989, John Durant (the first UK Professor of Public Understanding of Science at Imperial College), Geoffrey Evans and Geoffrey Thomas published the first major survey of public understanding of science in the UK. They found high levels of interest, but that only 14% of British citizens could be called ‘scientifically literate’ according to tests of knowledge of scientific terms and processes.

Secondly Bodmer called for more science in the media, enthusiastically taken up by the BBC, which already had several TV and radio programs. Other broadcasters also increased their science offerings. Newspapers responded by appointing science journalists, correspondents and editors, and some introduced special science sections into their regular pages.

So who are Science Communicators?

There are many ways that you can be a Science Communicator:

  • Write as a science journalist at a national newspaper or magazine.
  • Work in a university press office to help promote the breakthrough stories from scientific research carried out by the academics.
  • Deliver science shows or organise events at science festivals, schools or science centres.
  • Design and make interactive exhibits for science centres.
  • Volunteer as a STEM Ambassador sharing your knowledge in schools and in the community.

I have been lucky enough to do lots of Science Communication from tours and workshops at science centres to volunteering at schools, to running coding clubs in youth centres and being a part of an incredible science festival! I love it, I find it so rewarding and could not recommend it enough!

I am particular passionate about inspiring more young women to pursue careers in STEM and getting young people excited and interested in STEM is a brilliant way to start!

So why is Science Communication important?

Some Science Communication can have a really powerful effect – take the success story that is Blue Planet II!

David Attenborough’s Blue Planet revolutionised the mindset of an entire nation. Millions of people in the UK were inspired and encouraged to change their habits. It managed to create real change in the way a nation thinks about single use plastics. It was reported that 88% of people who watched Blue Planet II changed their lifestyle in some way. Attitudes towards single-use bags, disposable plastic straws, and packaging will never be the same. According to research (by Waitrose), more than 60% of people use reusable water bottles more now than they did in 2017.

The Houses of Parliament announced a ban on single-use plastics and 60% of us also now more regularly use a refillable cup for takeaway coffeeWith 66% of 18 to 24-year-olds saying they were more likely to choose a reusable cup when out. In supermarkets customers are also increasingly buying unpacked fruit and vegetables. Sales of loose pears, for example, are growing at 30 times the rate of bagged pears. 

There is so much more to do but Science Communication can have real sweeping positive consequences across governmental policy and across society as a whole. Bringing important scientific issues to the forefront of people’s minds and leading to larger changes in habits and the way we live.

I believe excellent Science Communication like this, is important now more than ever in an age where we have an incredible amount of information at our fingertips all of the time. Unfortunately not all of it is factually accurate. The spread of misleading (and in some cases completely false) information is extremely prevalent.

The oversimplifying of scientific information is a very popular practice, otherwise known as “infotainment”, it focuses on describing new scientific discoveries in an entertaining fashion. This means important science is often sensationalised to get more views or findings are skewed or generalised to the extreme to make a good headline. The same goes for misleading graphs, stats and infographics and unfortunately, it is these that lend themselves beautifully to being widely circulated in the media. For example a study in Science found that fake news was 70% more likely to be retweeted than true news.

So we must continue to fight the barrage of misinformation and confusion with excellent, factually accurate and engaging Science Communication.

You can find out more about Science Communication and how to become a STEM Ambassador here.

Lily

2SistersInSTEM

Follow Our Blog!

Enter your email address below to get our new posts delivered straight to your inbox!

STEM Scribbles – The Eiffel Tower Grows?

Hi there it’s Lily here! And today very excitingly we are starting a new series called STEM Scribbles!

We will be sharing incredible and intriguing STEM related facts and info accompanied by one of my little scribbles!

Both myself and Maisie are really passion about science, tech and engineering communication so we hope you enjoy this more SciCom related content!

So what interesting STEM related fact do we have for you today? – read on to find out!

Did you know that the Eiffel Tower grows a little in the summer – approximately 15cm?

  • When a substance is heated it expands due to a process called thermal expansion.
  • So in the hot sun materials can increase in size and then as the sun sets they can decrease in size.
  • When a material is heated, molecular activity increases and the energy stored in the bonds between atoms increases too. With the increase in stored energy, the length of molecular bonds also increases.
  • The ratio of expansion and change in temperature is known as the coefficient of thermal expansion of the material. More on exactly how to calculate it this can be found here and here.
  • Common engineering materials generally have a constant coefficient of thermal expansion so this expansion doesn’t need to be considered too much during construction.
  • However large structures are sometimes built with expansion joints to accommodate the expansion and reduction in size of materials due to change in temperature.

You can find out more information about the iconic and incredible feat of engineering that is the Eiffel Tower here.

Reference: http://www.webuildvalue.com/en/reportage/eiffel-tower-story-secrets.html

Stay tuned for more STEM Scribbles coming soon! And head over to Instagram to see the post and reel in action!

Lily

2 Sisters in STEM

Follow Our Blog!

Enter your email address below to get our new posts delivered straight to your inbox!

I Read 84 Books in 2020!

Maisie here! Today I will be talking all things books, books, books!

2020 has been a year of reading for me and I can’t really fathom how many books I have read! I love books and this year I have tried to read a variety of genres and a good mix of fiction and non-fiction.

As part of this post I have created my top 10 books I read in 2020 round up! If you love books you should stick around and join in with a natter on everything books and reading related!

I absolutely adore reading! I only really got back into loving it in July 2019 when I started my internship, I had more time in the evenings and less stress regarding deadlines so I would often pick up a book before going to sleep. With no uni work for most of the year and a global pandemic in the mix I ended up reading 84 books in 2020 and really can’t believe it!

I used to buy most of my books from charity shops but sadly this year I have not been in half as many as usual due to most of them having to close. I have had to find other ways of buying used books and this has mainly been online through eBay or other second-hand websites. I do love a book that has a bit of history behind it, it’s so interesting finding a note written in the front from the previous owner! When I came to the end of my internship my team were kind enough to give me some vouchers as a leaving present. By then we were in the midst of the pandemic so a lot of the vouchers were spent on new or used books that I had my eye on!

Audiobooks have also been an absolute saving grace during this year, especially during the first UK lockdown. I was living with Lily and whilst she would be on long work calls I could just pop on my headphones and get carried away into the world of The Wind in the Willows or Circe – both of which I enjoyed immensely by the way! I currently use Libby which is an amazing app that you can listen to audiobooks on. On Libby you can listen to audiobooks for free!! All you need is to have a library card/account and your library needs to partner with Libby, so have a look into that if you want to listen to audiobooks in the coming year!

During lockdown the death of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement really made me take stock and open my eyes to how much I didn’t know. I felt ignorant in some parts and knew I had to educate myself more on matters. Lots of bookish Instagram accounts were sharing authors and books to read to educate ourselves on black history and racism in the US, UK and elsewhere, from these I compiled a list of my own including non-fiction and fiction that I should read. I have read many books written by people of colour in 2020 but know I have a lot more reading and work to do to improve myself and my understanding. There is a lot of guidance and some great recommendations out there so have a look around and please read what you can.

I’ve enjoyed this year of reading so much that I have decided to document my reading in 2021 on our Instagram page here! I will be adding all the books I read throughout the year on our Instagram stories and save than as a highlight so I have a full rundown of my year in books! I will of course also be updating my Goodreads account along with my reading, if you want you can to give me a follow on Goodreads here! (shameless plug!)

My Top 10 Books (in no particular order as I can’t pick!)

  • Call Me By Your Name by Andrew Aciman
  • Motherhood by Sheila Heti
  • Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo
  • Why I am no Longer Talking to White People About Race by Renni Eddo-Lodge
  • The Invisible Life of Addie Larue by V.E Schwab
  • Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secret to the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sàenz
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
  • Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin
  • Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

I have absolutely loved writing this post, I know it isn’t STEM related really at all but I just wanted to talk about something I have grown really passionate about over the past year. But on the STEM side of things later in the year I will write a post compiling all my favourite STEM-y books I have read recently, so definitely keep an eye out for that in the future!

Do you love reading, if so what has been your favourite book you read in 2020? Any recommendations for me?

Maisie

2SistersInSTEM

Follow Our Blog!

Enter your email address below to get our new posts delivered straight to your inbox!

University During Covid-19

Maisie here! I have now come to the end of my first semester of my final year of university and I thought I would don my best Christmas jumper for the occasion!

I study Aerospace Engineering at the University of Sheffield and had a year out to do my internship in 2019-2020. It has been a busy, stressful and weird semester but surprisingly I have enjoyed it.

I thought I would reflect back on these last few months to give people a insight into my experience at university during a global pandemic.

This academic year has been a peculiar one so far! As I have said in previous posts I was on a year long internship in academic year 2019-2020 so I had no experience of university education during the pandemic. I arrived in Sheffield in September and did not really know what to expect course and contact wise!

University has been very different due to Covid-19 and it did take a while to readjust to a new way of working. From September to December I only went into university a handful of times, this was for in person tutorials and I was not a fan of the experience to be honest. There were about 15 people in a lecture theatre that usually seats 300, it felt quite isolating in that sense but I did enjoy seeing my lecturer and working through exam questions – all from a distance. On campus and in university buildings there are a lot of one way systems and safety measures implemented, this is really great to see but sometimes it just doesn’t feel like university. I do feel sorry for students who have just joined university because they are definitely not getting the full experience I got in my first year, real lectures, contact hours with tutors and labs!

I am definitely a bit of an introverted person in general, so having to socially distance and stay inside has not affected me in a huge way. I do love a night out or a good old catch up in a pub but as I am in my final year I knew I couldn’t be going to Roar (University of Sheffield’s best night out!) every Wednesday night even if everywhere was open! I had already brought down my expectations for socialising even before everything went into lockdown so it wasn’t such a shock to the system. My flat mates are an absolute saving grace to my sanity, we look out for each other and make sure we get outside and have some fresh air (this is a must!!).

On a positive note I actually feel that during this semester I could structure my days better and make the most out of the time I had. For nearly all my modules lectures were pre-recorded and my lecturers would upload them at the beginning of the week, this meant I could choose when to focus on different modules and structure my week in a way that I knew I could complete all the work required. I love a good spreadsheet so I made a sheet with all the lectures and videos I had to watch and attend each week, the feeling of being able to tick off something when I have completed it is the best!

One of my modules was an aircraft design module and 50% of the mark was for a group design project. My team was made up of 5 people in the third year of my course, as I have been out of university for my year in industry I am now in the same year as people who were in the year below. Group projects can be difficult at the best of times and the fact I have never actually met any of the people I was in the team with is rather odd, but we worked to the best of our abilities and relied heavily on Google docs to get it all done! All our meetings were conducted over Google meet and worked okay, a few people missed a meeting or two but we also had a WhatsApp group to make sure everyone knew what they should be doing for the next meeting. We submitted the report just before Christmas so hopefully we have done well!

I returned home at the beginning of December in the ‘student mass exodus’ as lots of media sources called it! I have been finishing my semester here at home and it has been a bit of a readjustment again getting used to working at home. It has been lovely seeing Mum and Dad but can sometimes be distracting when I am trying to do a lecture! I do think I find it easier to structure my day when I’m in Sheffield. But I am so thankful and grateful I could be here over the Christmas period! Overall, this semester has been a tough one but I do think I have done my best in the circumstances!

I may have completed semester 1 but now it’s onto revision for my January exams – the work doesn’t stop!

I hope you all have a great holiday whatever you celebrate, have a good old rest and eat lots of food!

Maisie

2SistersInSTEM

Follow Our Blog!

Enter your email address below to get our new posts delivered straight to your inbox!

Inspirational Interviews – Natalie Cheung

For this instalment of our inspirational interview series we are talking to Natalie Cheung.

Natalie is an award-winning leader, volunteer and civil engineer who is passionate about promoting careers in STEM! She is currently working to deliver the STEM Ambassador programme in London, as STEM Ambassador Coordinator.

For her volunteer work and active citizenship, Natalie was awarded the YMCA England and Wales Young Leader of the Year 2018 and University of Manchester Medal of Social Responsibility in 2019. She is also a Council member for the Women’s Engineering Society and won their Amy Johnson award in 2019 for promoting diversity in engineering and applied sciences.

What/Who inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?

At school I was interested in Artificial Intelligence and Technology which led to me studying Computing at A-Level. I wanted to program robots! I considered a wide variety of engineering disciplines to pursue at university and ended up picking Civil Engineering which was quite different to my original plan. This was influenced by a work experience placement in construction where I realised how many roles there were behind civil engineering projects like buildings! I am so grateful for the mentors who opened my eyes to career options in construction when I was 16, I had never even heard of civil engineering before that.

What does your typical day look like?

As a STEM Ambassador co-coordinator I help to deliver the STEM Ambassador programme which gets volunteers from different STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) fields inspiring young people to consider pursuing STEM. In my day-to-day, I work with volunteers, employers, schools, councils, museums, libraries, youth groups and more! I love organising events and supporting STEM Ambassadors to create resources that can reach young people.

Have you had to overcome challenges? If so what we’re they and how did you do it?

Those who know me now would be very surprised to hear I was a very very quiet teenager! Like many others, I have overcome challenges of confidence and impostor syndrome. Last year, I set a goal to improve my public speaking skills as I recognised this is a skill that can support me in my career and personal life. I sought out opportunities to deliver presentations and talks, especially those which were out of my comfort zone. The highlights of my public speaking work last year include coaching from TED, speaking at an international conference in front of the President of the UN General Assembly, being part of an engineering panel live-streamed to ten of thousands of young people and my first paid motivational speaking events.

What do you think can be done to get more girls into STEM?

Girls are already interested in STEM fields but it would help to have further support, mentorship and inspiration for groups which are currently under-represented. We also need to normalise seeing women in all levels of all STEM careers so they are visible to young people of all genders, plus parents and teachers. If you are interested in pursuing a career in civil engineering or STEM education, I would advise using online networks to learn from other people in the field. I have met lots of people from LinkedIn and Twitter who I can learn a lot from, including those in other fields. If you approach people in a polite way, they are often willing to provide advice from their experience or direct you to resources. As a mentor, I have really enjoyed working with engineering students and those seeking to find a STEM education role.

What do you like to do outside of work?

Outside of my day job and voluntary work in STEM, I have started a podcast “Yellow Bee Pod” which highlights the experience of East and Southeast Asians in UK, like myself. This is an underrepresented group in media and I am grateful for the opportunity to provide a platform for voices we don’t hear from enough.

Thank you so much to Natalie for speaking to us about her journey and career, we hope these interviews inspire more women and girls to get into STEM!

2SistersInSTEM

Follow Our Blog!

Enter your email address below to get our new posts delivered straight to your inbox!

Peak Hike To Plane Crash Site

One of the many perks of going to university in Sheffield is being so incredibly close to the Peak District. I have been to the peaks a few times in my first and second year but not ever for a proper ‘Duke of Edinburgh’ style hike.

So a few weeks ago some friends and I went for a hike in the peaks to see the B-29 Superfortress crash site.

My flatmate and I drove from Sheffield city centre for about 50 minutes and parked in the outskirts of a little village called Hayfield. We walked (or scrambled) up to Mill Hill to meet a couple of friends and then carried on the Pennine Way for a socially distanced hike up to the crash site.

It was a super foggy day so it was hard to see very far in front of us, the Pennine Way was fine to navigate but as soon as we left the path to reach the crash site we were relying heavily on a compass! Once off the nicely paved path we were walking through boggy moorland, I had made the rookie error of forgetting to bring my walking boots with me to uni, so it was trainers for me and they were soaked!

We were walking through the boggy moor for about half an hour but then we came upon the crash site. It was incredible to see, the wreckage covers a much larger area then I first assumed. Over the years parts have been moved and blown about but because of its remote location there is still a huge percentage of the aircraft wreckage still there to be seen.

The aircraft took off from RAF Scampton travelling to American AFB Burtonwood. B-29 Superfortress crashed into the peaks on the 3rd November 1948 whilst descending through cloud. All 13 crew members were killed but the cause of the aircraft crash was never actually discovered.

As I said, on the day of our walk there was an incredible amount of fog and cloud so the conditions would have been relatively similar on the day of the crash, which was a eerie realisation.

I have to say my legs were incredibly sore the day after but it was definitely worth the pain and effort! I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to see this piece of history still in the same place after over 70 years, I would highly recommend going to visit this site if you are ever in the peak district!

Here is a selection of pictures I took whilst at the crash site!

Maisie

2SistersInSTEM

Follow Our Blog!

Enter your email address below to get our new posts delivered straight to your inbox!

Pots, Pans and Panic – Heading Back to Uni!

Hi it’s Maisie here! We have had a bit of a break from the blog over the summer but we are now back and ready to go – I have even got a swanky fringe so it’s all new round here!

It is now nearing the time that I will be going back to university, so I thought I would have a little ramble about how I am feeling regarding heading back to uni after my internship year at Boeing Defence UK.

Excited but surrounded by pots, pans and panic I will venture back to Sheffield!

I had such an incredible year at Boeing Defence UK but now it’s onto my final year at the University of Sheffield. I’m heading back to university! I am ever so excited to get back to Sheffield, I adore the city and can’t wait to live there for another year. I do know that university will be different because of the current global situation but I hope that by being sensible and safe I will still enjoy my final year at Sheffield – time for me to get my degree!

How is university going to be different?

University life is going to be different in many ways, no late nights in the library, less societies and no dancing in clubs at 3am – the latter probably being for the best! But most importantly because of the current Covid climate I won’t be in any face to face lectures (most contact will be online apart from labs and some tutorials). This means I will be on my laptop for a large percentage of my day, I will need a good laptop stand and very comfy chair – and my glasses when my eyes are exhausted from reading about aerospace materials for hours!

What is my living situation going to be like?

I lived in a flat by myself in Southsea for a year so going back to Sheffield will be a readjustment in that sense. I will be living with two of my best friends so it definitely won’t be too difficult – we all get on super well, as long as everyone does their washing up! Also, as we have said before, Lily and I have been living together during lock down, in my opinion this has been good on a lot of levels – mostly me having to adjust to living with another human being again! I think Lily was more happy with the fact I love cooking which meant she got some tasty meals (if I do say so myself!).

So what have I learnt from my internship?

I learnt so much throughout my year at BDUK and I met some incredible people. It was not only aerospace industry knowledge I gained throughout my year, I have learnt so much about the world in general and about myself (cheesy I know but it’s true!!). I definitely think I am a lot more independent now after my year of work, not just in my actions but in my thoughts and opinions. University is the first taste of freedom for most people but you are still in that little educational bubble, I think taking a step away from that has really helped me to re-evaluate lots of aspects of my life. So using all this new found knowledge I really do hope to do my best and achieve as much as I can in my final year!

How will I manage my money?

With my year at BDUK I earned an income so I was pretty comfortable with my budget and spending. Now I need to snap back to student life, I will be keeping a strict budget and managing my spending. I have to say that my weakness is second hand book shopping, I just love a book bargain so I had better keep an eye on that! I keep tabs on my money by having a spreadsheet with all my outgoing payments, including rent, utility bills and also food shops – lily has told me about an app she uses called EMMA so I may have to have a look at that before I start my new year and new spreadsheet.

How will I be keeping to a routine?

Time management is a must and from my year of real-world work I had to have a structured work day. At BDUK I actually started work at 7am so it was a massive change from what I was used to, I would wake up at 5:40am to get into work on time. However I am concerned that I will fall back into my irregular sleep pattern that I definitely developed for my first and second year of university. No more 10am wake ups for me, I have got to keep to a proper morning routine and set a time when I will start working every day.

How am I feeling?

Because I have been away from university for a year I am slightly concerned that when I get back to I am going to feel old – I mean I know I’m only 21 but this years freshers were born in 2002?! I can’t quite get my head around that. Also a readjustment for me will be going back into an academic setting, I haven’t learnt in a structured way for over a year so I’m a little nervous about getting back into the swing of things. I am going to have to put a lot of time and effort into all my work and I know it will be different and strange in many ways but I am up for the challenge.

I had better get packing now, I’ll update you on how I’m getting on in the near future!

Maisie

2SistersInSTEM

Follow Our Blog!

Enter your email address below to get our new posts delivered straight to your inbox!

5 STEM Related Places To Visit In The UK

As lock down is slowly lifting in the UK, more and more attractions and museums are reopening. We love visiting new places and learning about new things! With London’s Science Museum reopening tomorrow we thought this would be the perfect time to share some lesser known science-y attractions that we have visited or hope to visit soon! There are so many interesting and varied places to visit relating to science, technology, engineering and maths in the UK and around the world! Read on for some of our top picks!

Bletchley Park – Milton Keynes

Bletchley Park is now open to visit (but you will need to pre-book a timed entry slot). We both visited a few years ago and absolutely loved it! The site is quite large and you get to really explore and immerse yourself in the incredible stories of Britain’s World War Two Codebreakers! As the real life setting of the film the ‘Imitation Game’ you may be familiar with the story of Bletchley Park. It was here that Alan Turing’s created the Bombe: a machine used to crack Germany’s Enigma encoder, enabling Britain to tap Nazi communications.

It is so fascinating to see the place where it all happened and to really appreciate the scale of the Bombe machines, you can even see one in action and witness the whirring and the clunking in person!

Find out more here.

The National Museum of Computing

Right next door to Bletchley Park is The National Museum of Computing which is re-opening on the 8th September 2020. Lily – ‘I would love to visit and learn more about the history of computing, the more I learn the more I want to find out!’

Find out more here.

National Space Centre – Leicester

The National Space Centre is an incredible place to visit whatever age you are. It is home to the UK’s largest planetarium and six space galleries. The centre is now open but you must book in advance to get a spot!

Maisie – ‘I visited the National Space Centre in Leicester when I was at secondary school. During the day we were able to attend a talk about growing plants and food in space and how conditions in space craft affect the growth of biological organisms. The rocket tower was an especially memorable part of the centre, it is home to the Blue Streak and Thor Able rockets. You are able to stand underneath a real rocket and it is truly awe inspiring, the tower is 42 meters in height it can be seen as you enter Leicester. I really loved my visit and can absolutely say that the trip added to my interest in aerospace engineering and also space in general.’

Find out more here.

Wellcome Collection – London

The Wellcome Collection is a free museum and library for ‘the incurably curious’ and it is reopening on the 7th October 2020.

Visit to explore the connections between science, medicine, life and art through the various galleries and exhibitions. The Medicine Man exhibition is amazing with all sorts of artifacts and items on display collected by Sir Henry Wellcome an enthusiastic traveller and collector. He amassed well over a million books, paintings and objects from around the world during his lifetime, and the most unique and incredible can be found on display!

Whilst it remains closed, you can still enjoy and explore their collections online, wherever you are.

Find out more here.

Science and Industry Museum – Manchester

We have heard great things about the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester and really want to visit! It’s exhibits explore recent and historic breakthroughs in science and industry.

Highlights include the industrial history of Manchester, featuring a walk-through Victorian sewer, a gallery of classic transportation and The Manchester Small-Scale Experimental Machine (SSEM), nicknamed the ‘Baby’ computer, which was the world’s first computer to store and run a program.

The museum is now open Wed–Sun 10:00–17:00, all visitors are required to book a free ticket in advance.

Find out more here.

The Spaceguard Centre – Powys

The Spaceguard Centre is definitely on my STEM bucket list & will hopefully be reopening to the public soon! It is a working observatory and is part of a global effort to track Near Earth Objects (NEOs). 150 tonnes of material hits the Earth’s atmosphere every day, most of it harmless dust, but some are a much bigger deal!

Spaceguard houses two large, robotically controlled telescopes, used to confirm other people’s NEO spots. A tour of this one-man outpost high in Powys, takes in telescopes, fragments and all things asteroid and meteorite related!

Find out more here.

What are some of your favourite science, technology, engineering and maths related places to visit around the UK and the world? We would love to add them to our travel bucket list for the future – let us know in a comment down below!

Lily & Maisie

2 Sisters In STEM

Follow Our Blog!

Enter your email address below to get our new posts delivered straight to your inbox!

‘But you don’t look like a physicist!’

Hi, Lily here! For this week’s post I am going to be talking about the reactions I have faced when talking to people about the fact I did a physics degree. My thoughts on the conversations I have had, how the responses have and continue to affect me and ultimately why I think working to tackle stereotypes is so important!

A few years ago whilst I was studying at university a question I was often asked (and often felt uncomfortable answering) was – what do you study? Early on in my degree I would reply almost shyly, bashfully …’umm I study physics’ and it usually shocked people to some extent. But why? This is what I want to explore in today’s blog post!

Over the past few years being on the receiving end of this exchange many times I can pretty much group people’s reactions into the following:

  1. ‘Woahhh you must be really clever … I dropped physics as soon as I could!’
  2. ‘Cool that must be really interesting!’
  3. And third and finally – ‘No way! But you don’t look like you would study physics!’

As I worked through my physics degree I became more and more confident in my ownership of the word physicist. I hadn’t studied physics for 3 years, put ALOT of hard work into it to not feel worthy enough to be a ‘physicist’. And I think in some way this made me analyse the reactions I got to telling people I was ‘a physicist’ even more closely!

So let’s break down these reactions! Firstly number one, something along the lines of ‘that must be soooo hard’, or ‘I never got on with physics at all’. This is probably the most common response I get – which is really sad! People that have had such a rubbish experience with science and physics in particular at a young age that they ‘dropped it as soon as they could’ or ‘always remember it never clicking’ or that ‘they just never got it’.

I think there is something pretty important to think about here! Are people scared off from subjects when they are younger because they are told by friends, family sometimes even teachers that they are ‘really hard’ or maybe that ‘they haven’t quite got what it takes’? Now I am not saying that physics isn’t difficult, but I believe passionately that the majority of people who study physics or perceived ‘hard’ subjects are not naturally good at them! They don’t ‘just get it’ – they work really bloody hard and they slowly improve their knowledge over time. It is not magic! I think it is really dangerous to perpetuate this idea that certain subjects are only for people who show extraordinary intelligence or brilliance – this is not the case, what you need is a passion for the subject, lots of determination and the willingness to put a lot of hard work in!

The second reaction is great – it is always brilliant when at the mention of physics people respond positively! Usually they might have an interested in something science-y themselves or they may have seen or read a physics or science related documentary/film or book. This is why science communication and science in the media is so important! People’s whole perception and view of what I do is usually based around what they see through the media – for instance people often talk about Brian Cox and what they think of his documentaries.

The third and final response I frequently got (and initially really feared) is ‘No way! But you don’t look like a physicist!’. This response is usually preceded by a look of shock/confusion and is by far and away the most difficult to reply to. This response is the reason for years I was shy and often nervous to have this conversation. What am I expected to reply to that? When someone looks at you in disbelief when you tell them what you do/ what you study – it really does make you question yourself! It shouldn’t, but it does – does this person think I’m lying? Do I look incapable? Do I look too young? Is there something wrong with what I’m wearing? Is it because I’m a woman?

I know I do not look like society’s stereotypical physicist or scientist e.g. a caricature of Albert Einstein – mad scientist vibe! But the shock, disbelief and judgement from others can make you feel really self conscious! And this is something I really don’t want other young women in STEM to have to deal with.

This is why female representation in STEM is so, so important! Anyone no matter what they look like can be a physicist or work in STEM! Diverse role models working in STEM are so important and this is where social media really comes into it’s own. You can find such a wide variety of people working in all sorts of STEM careers, and this is only going to keep improving. We need as many people as possible sharing their stories to keep pushing for wider representation. This will hopefully lead to more people realising that physicists and people working in STEM come in all shapes and sizes, from wide ranging backgrounds, career paths and life experiences. That we are not all – a certain age, a certain sex, dress a certain way, talk a certain way – but that we are varied and unique and that this diversity and continuing to work to improve representation is what will push Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths forwards.

Working to tackle stereotypes is extremely important and this is one of the reasons why I started this blog! The more people there are talking about their experiences the more role models there are for young people aspiring to work in STEM. If young people can align themselves to people already working in the field this will hopefully give them the belief that they can do it too!

Let me know if you have had a similar experience ( ‘But you don’t look like a …’ )? And what more do you think we can do to continue to smash stereotypes of what a physicist or someone who works in STEM looks like?

Thanks so much for reading!

Lily

2SistersinSTEM

Follow Our Blog!

Enter your email address below to get our new posts delivered straight to your inbox!