STEM Scribbles – Why does Venus spin the ‘wrong’ way round?

Hi Lily again, and I am back with a STEM scribble!

Today we are looking out to the Solar System for some astrophysics facts!

Of the 8 planets that orbit the sun Venus is a bit of an anomaly, and today we will find out why! Keep reading to find out more…

Did you know that Venus spins the wrong way round?

Now firstly here are a few things to know about the planets:

Satellites in Orbit - worksheet from - Times Tutorials
times.tutorials.co.uk
  • There are 8 planets in our solar system
  • From the Sun going outward they are Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune
  • All the planets orbits around the Sun in the same direction and in a similar shaped path, a squashed circle called an ellipse
  • All the planets (apart from Venus and Uranus – we’ll come back to them later) spin in the same direction as the sun spins on their own axis
  • And we think at the beginning of the Solar System all the planets were spinning in this same direction, as they formed from a collapsing and spinning cloud of gas – and they kept spinning in that same direction

So why does Venus spin the other way and what are the consequences?

  • on Venus the Sun rises in the west and sets in the east
  • one theory is that Venus used to spin in the same direction as the other planets, but at some point it flipped it’s axis 180 degrees
  • so it actually still spins in the direction it always has just upside down!
  • it may have flipped due to very strong atmospheric tides caused by the planet’s very dense atmosphere
  • another theory is that in fact it didn’t flip and that at some point it stopped spinning and then when it started again in the other direction
  • this might explain why Venus has such a slow rotation speed, it spins once every 243 days compared to every 24 hours here on Earth!
  • unfortunately we don’t know for sure what happened there isn’t a solid answer! This is a mystery still waiting for astronomers to solve!
Why Does Venus Spin In The Wrong Direction? | Videos
http://www.labroots.com

As I mentioned earlier actually Uranus also spins differently to the other planets too! It is tilted just over 90 degrees so it kind of spins on it’s side. The theory behind this is that it was hit a number of times by large objects which knocked it over!

Cosmic Crash That Knocked Uranus Sideways Also Made Its ...
http://www.space.com

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

Lily

2 Sisters in STEM

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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

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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

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