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!

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!

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. Me and Maisie really miss visiting new places and learning about new things! With London’s Science Museum reopening this Wednesday we thought this would be the perfect time to share some of our recommendations of science-y attractions we have visited and loved 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 favourites!

Bletchley Park

Bletchley Park is now open to visit (but you will need to pre-book a timed entry slot). Maisie and I visited a few years ago now 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!

If you have watched the film the ‘Imitation Game’, you may be familiar with the story of Alan Turing’s Bombe: the machine used by the mathematical genius 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 Musuem of Computing which is re-opening on the 8th September 2020. This is somewhere I desperately want to visit

National Space Centre – Leicester

I visited the National Space Centre in Leister 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.

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 42m 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.

Science and Industry Museum – Manchester

I 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 walkthrough 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.

Woolsthorpe Manor – Lincolnshire

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 reading their stories and exploring their collections online, wherever you are.

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!

Lily & Maisie

2 Sisters In STEM

Follow Our Blog!

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

3 STEM Podcasts I’m Loving in Lockdown

Hello, Maisie here! Due to lockdown Lily and I have been living together for a while now, it’s been fab but sometimes I just need to be in my own zone. You will often find me with my headphones on listening to some form of media – podcasts, audio books or music.

So here I am again with a few more STEM related podcast recommendations! Grab a cup of tea and have a listen to these educational and funny podcasts. Hope you enjoy!

The Curious Cases of Rutherford & Fry

Hannah Fry, Adam Rutherford solving everyday mysteries with the power of science! I think I have a slight obsession with Dr Fry and Dr Rutherford, I love their humour and chemistry – it’s contagious!

Taking inspiration from Sherlock Holmes, they scientifically investigate queries and questions that are sent in by their listeners.

Episode Recommendation: ‘The Scarlet Mark

‘The scarlet mark’ is an episode from rather a long time ago…2016! The questions this episode revolves around are ‘does red hair skipping generations?’ and ‘is the ginger gene is dying out?’ – in essence this episode was all about gingers! When Adam Rutherford called ginger hair “an astonishing beacon of awesomeness” I myself (possessing the ginger beacon) knew I would love the episode!!

Historian Professor Kate Williams tells us a little of the historical background of redheads – for instance Shakespeare calling it the dissembling colour. Also Judas was never described as ginger in the bible but has been portrayed as being a redhead for many years – hence red hair was a sign of distrust.

Listen to The Curious Cases of Rutherford & Fry here


Encyclopedia Womannica

I love this quick, snappy and easily digestible podcast. Encyclopedia Womannica features short (often 5 – 10 minutes) episodes containing key information about incredible women. The series talks about the women we should have learnt about in school – from warriors to explorers and obviously women in STEM! This being a STEM blog I am obviously going to recommend the ‘STEMinist’ section of the series but there are loads of other interesting and inspirational women featured throughout this podcast!

Episode Recommendation: ‘STEMinists: Emmy Noether

The episode that first caught my eye was about Mathematician Emmy Noether, I have to admit I had not heard of Emmy prior to listening to this podcast.

She was one of only two women sitting in on her university classes at the time. In 1907 she received her PhD in mathematics, after she graduated Emmy worked at the Mathematical Institute of Erlangen for 7 years (unpaid!). She joined the Mathematical Institute in Göttingen and worked on theoretical algebra and general relativity, Emmy proved two theorems that are key in general relativity and particle physics.

Emmy was not allowed to be an official lecturer because she was a woman, however in 1919 Albert Einstein himself stepped in to advocate for Emmy and eventually she was allowed to lecture.

Listen to Encyclopedia Womannica here


Science Vs

Wendy Zukerman hosts the ‘Science Vs’ podcast, this podcast investigates and discusses fads, myths and the big opinions behind them. Throughout the episodes Wendy discusses the topics with experts and tries to separate the fiction from hard science – Wendy is so enthusiastic and her podcast presence is excellent! I love the music that backs up each episode, it makes the half hour episodes fly by and you’ll be wanting to listen to another straight away! The most recent podcasts are relating to COVID-19 so give those a listen if you want to find out more.

Episode Recommendation: ‘Bigfoot

The Bigfoot episode talks about sightings of the human like beast that is Bigfoot – the question is could Bigfoot really be out there? Some people take Bigfoot sightings very seriously, there was even a scientific paper published investigating over 500 Bigfoot reports since 1944! One of the possible explanations they explore in this episode is the extinct Gigantopithecus, a giant ape dated to around 300,000 years ago. Some people believe that there may be one of these large apes roaming forests in America – not so extinct after all. By the end of the episode, after the scientific investigation, you may be able to guess what conclusion was drawn about the big man Bigfoot himself!

Listen to Science Vs here

What are your favourite podcasts at the moment – science related or not? Share your recommendations in the comments – we would love to hear them!

Maisie

2 Sisters In STEM

Follow Our Blog!

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

5 Unexpected Things About Life In Lockdown

Hi, it’s Lily here! Last week marked 100 days of lockdown in the UK – and at this point I really have lost all perception of time! Things have started to change a little, but even though restrictions are slowly easing we are still very far away from a return to any kind of normality. The challenge of trying to adapt to this new normal definitely has it’s ups and it’s downs. But today I really wanted to share the small but important, unexpected positives that lockdown has had on my day to day life!

(1) Reading more and reading consistently – as I have been working from home during lockdown and not commuting, I have been using the extra time to read more! I am so happy that as a result over the past few months reading has become a consistent habit and part of my life. My sister Maisie has been a major influence in helping me do this, encouraging me to prioritise and put time aside for it! I am a pretty quick reader so in the past I have often picked a book up, read it super quickly, finished it, put it down and then just not picked another up for weeks and weeks on end. To try and get out of this habit I have started reading multiple books at the same time, something I never thought my poor brain would be able to cope with, but something I am really enjoying! It also means that I can choose what to read depending on my mood and stops me falling into the trap of just veg-ing on the sofa if I don’t fancy that specific book! I have also inadvertently discovered the world of free audiobooks accessed via my library card. Until a few weeks ago I had no idea I could listen to audiobooks for free through my library – it has been such a game changer! The app I’ve been using is called Libby and all you need to set it up is to select your local library from the list and enter your library card number – it is that easy. I would highly recommend it! Me and Maisie have even got our Dad set up and hooked on audiobooks now!

(2) I finally tackled the ‘clothes pile’ – I really hope it isn’t just me who has a pile of clothes, which a while ago I must have decided I had the sewing skills to magically transform! Well at last I finally plucked up the courage and gave it a go, and it didn’t go terribly – yay! My bodge-job seamstress abilities have done me proud over the last few weeks. I transformed an old dress I didn’t get enough wear out of into a cute t-shirt which I have already worn tonnes. With the leftover material I then made my very first homemade scrunchie and it is addictive! I fear I may have created a monster – now I know how quick and easy it is, all my other clothes are in danger of being sacrificed to make more of them!

(3) Rediscovering my love for drawing – quite early on in lockdown whilst sorting out some books I found an old sketchbook. It had hardly been used – so I decided I wanted to fill it’s pages with lockdown drawings and doodles. Over the past couple of months I have drawn so many random things from supermarket car parks to a pair of spotty socks. And I am really enjoying it as a little escape from words and screens! It really calms me down and relaxes me and is something I definitely want to continue and aim to do more of going forward! I also found a book I had as a kid all about drawing technique which I am hoping to work through to improve my skills and knowledge.

(4) I am drinking more water – (I admit most of it through cups of tea – but it still counts right!). In my family I am notorious for not drinking enough water. I am that person who ‘forgets to drink’ unless I have a drink in my eye line at all times so I physically cannot miss it! It is a tiny thing but I recently got a new water bottle – perfect for a numpty like me as it has timings on the side of it to tell you how much water you should have drunk by certain times of the day. This along with my sister and I sharing a home office and it involving constant cups of tea being made has led to me forming much better habits. This is hopefully something I will stick with going forward!

(5) Getting to spend more time with my sister (and ultimately starting this blog!) – my fifth and final reflection on the last 100 days is that I am so incredibly grateful to have had my sister Maisie to help me through this crazy time. Living together, just the two of us, throughout lockdown has been a real bonding experience – we haven’t spent this much time together since before I went off to Uni (5 years ago now eek!). She has been a shoulder to cry on, a pal to vent with and ultimately she’s supported me wholeheartedly in starting this project – 2SistersInSTEM. She helped me find the courage to kick this off and I am so thankful for that. We are really enjoying writing blog posts, making videos and just trying to do our bit to hopefully inspire more young women into careers in STEM!

Do you have any unexpected positives that have come out of your lockdown experience?

Lily

2SisterInSTEM

Follow Our Blog!

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

STEM Books – ‘Brief Answers to the Big Questions’

Hi, it’s Maisie! Today I am going to be talking books! In particular a recent STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) related book I have read, which I just had to recommend.

Over the past year, whilst I have been working in industry I have really got back into reading. I am using Goodreads which is an app where I can track my reading progress. My aim for 2020 is to read 35 books and I think I might actually achieve it! I have already read 20 books this year so I’m well on my way. Now that we have been in lock down for a fair few weeks, I have been reading even more, especially in the evenings. I thought I would have a chat about my favourite STEM book of the year so far!

I have recently finished reading ‘Brief Answers to the Big Questions’ by Stephen Hawking. This was his final book and had not actually been completed when Stephen Hawking passed away. It was finished in collaboration with “his academic colleagues, his family and the Stephen Hawking Estate”. This book is a collation and reflection on everything he studied and thought about throughout his lifetime.

Professor Stephen Hawking was a Theoretical Physicist, one of the most internationally recognised scientists of our time. Some of his research includes the big bang and black holes. A lot of his research was pioneering, he even proposed a theory for black hole radiation that was named after him – Hawking radiation.

Within the book there are 10 wide-ranging chapters, in each Hawking aims to answer some of the universe’s largest and most complex questions.

  • Is there a God?
  • How did it all begin?
  • Is there other intelligent life in the universe?
  • Can we predict the future?
  • What is inside a black hole?
  • Is time travel possible?
  • Will we survive on Earth?
  • Should we colonise space?
  • Will artificial intelligence outsmart us?
  • How do we shape the future?

I love how, throughout the chapters, you get to see Stephen’s sense of humour within his writing, it is a very enjoyable and entertaining read. Hawking’s excellence and true genius shines throughout his writing. I really appreciated the way Stephen approached the topics in question and answered them in an understanding and inclusive way. These are some potentially contentious topics, but he discusses them brilliantly.

The book does contain some scientific explanations but they all have a purpose and Stephen does a great job at making the topics understandable for all. This book can be easily enjoyed and understood by anyone, irrespective of age or scientific understanding which is a pretty mean feat! Hawking uses his words carefully and sparingly so everything said within the book holds real meaning.

My favourite chapters were those that tackle the questions of our future. If humans should colonise space and how that would affect us all. Also how AI (artificial intelligence) will contribute to the future of technology and if we will be able to control its rapid development. All the answers are very thought provoking and I reread them just to digest all aspects of the response.

The heartfelt afterword by Lucy Hawking (Stephen Hawking’s daughter) is a lovely ending to an ever so intriguing book. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to explore the big questions of our world. I was always a little nervous to read a book by such a iconic scientist, I thought I would be way out my depth but actually the way Stephen Hawking writes is so accessible. Definitely go give this book a read!

Maisie

2SistersinSTEM

Follow Our Blog!

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

Why Physics – What Inspired Me To Study Physics?

Hi, Lily here! Today I’m going to be chatting about why I decided to do a Physics degree. What inspired me and ultimately how I made my decision to apply to university to study Physics. Did I listen to my head or my heart? Were there any particular events or moments which helped me make my decision? What or who inspired me?

I first started thinking about what I might want to study at university when I was choosing my A Level options, so that would have been just before I took my GCSE exams. At this point I was pretty set on going to university as I loved learning and wanted to study something in more depth but I wasn’t entirely sure what that was going to be quite yet!

The first time I submitted my A Level choices I definitely went with the subjects I most enjoyed, I definitely went with my heart! I chose Maths, Physics, Chemistry and History. I knew quite early on that although I loved the sciences, I was more passionate about Physics and Chemistry than Biology. However this caused me a bit of a dilemma!

At school, because I was good at the sciences I was never really encouraged to study anything apart from Medicine. In general, schools often steer you towards becoming a doctor if you are good at the sciences and towards becoming a lawyer if you are good at the arts. This meant I felt quite confused as to what I should do! I found there was not a lot of advice or direction given to me beyond that and of course ‘Do what you enjoy!’.

Although I definitely believe you should follow the advice ‘Do what you enjoy!’ you do need to think a bit more deeply than that! I think the important questions you need to ask yourself are ‘What interests you the most?’, ‘What are you the most intrigued by?’ and ‘What do you want to keep learning about the most?’.

I am really glad that I decided to follow my heart and went on to study physics, however there are so many other options available if you think you would be interested in doing something more applied or specific!

I didn’t have a lot of experience when it came to something more applied like engineering (which my sister decided to study a couple years after me!) or computer science. Looking back I think I would have also enjoyed these, but at the time I definitely made the best decision for me! When I finished my physics degree I had lots of career options open to me and I am very thankful for that! It also meant I got to learn a really broad amount of content at university which again I really enjoyed!

However if you feel that your interest lies in something more specific then I would definitely recommend pursuing it! When you complete your studies you will have a really deep knowledge of that particular field which will put you at an advantage when looking for jobs in your particular area. However if you are more undecided on what you think you might want to do in the future, like I was, then a broader choice might be the better way to go!

During the summer before I started my A Levels I had pretty much decided I wanted to study Physics at university! In particular I had read some brilliant Physics books which inspired me and opened my eyes to the incredible things I could learn about. Studying Physics gives you a better understanding of everything in the world around us, from the very small (e.g. quantum physics) to the incredibly vast (e.g. astrophysics)! I realised there was so much more for me to find out and learn about. So many unanswered questions and brilliant theories yet to discover!

Once I was set on studying Physics at university, I decided to reassess my A Level choices. I talked to my teachers and agreed it would make more sense for me to study Further Maths instead of History. I made the decision based on the fact it would benefit me in the long run as I would have a better mathematical knowledge as I started my degree (looking back I think it definitely made the maths content in my degree easier to get to grips with!).

Over the years I think my passion for Physics was sparked by these key events and sources of inspiration:

  • Reading physics related books, in particular this one ‘The Particle At The End Of The Universe’ by Sean Carroll – It is all about particle physics and the hunt to find the Higgs Boson particle, it really inspired me and got me thinking more deeply about physics!
  • Visiting the Science Museum, London – throughout my childhood I was incredibly lucky to visit a few times! I always loved the ‘Exploring Space’ gallery the most, seeing all the rockets and space suits right up close like that!
  • Visiting CERN when I was 15 – we were staying in France just across the border from Geneva, Switzerland. We made a pretty unplanned trip over there and looked around the visitor centre and I was absolutely fascinated by it all! CERN is the The European Organisation for Nuclear Research, the site of the Large Hadron Collider  – the world’s largest and highest energy particle collider (I will go into much more depth in a future post!)
  • Discovering Richard Feynman – a brilliant physicist and science communicator, Richard Feynman’s lectures opened my eyes to what university level physics might be like, you can watch videos of him lecturing on Youtube and all his lectures are free to read online!

Looking back and reflecting on the things that inspired me has been so, so interesting! I don’t come from a particularly science – y family so never felt compelled to study science, or to follow anyone I knew into science! I followed the path I did purely because I was interested and passionate about it! I wanted to learn more and I believed I could do it because of the support I was given from the amazing people around me!

Reflecting on this makes me even more passionate about increasing the visibility of female role models working in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths)! So young people can see people that look like them or come from the same background as them, studying or working in an area they are passionate about! It makes something you might think is impossible, seem much more possible!

What do you think inspires you?

Lily

2 Sisters in STEM

Follow Our Blog!

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

3 STEM Podcasts I’m Loving Right Now

Over the last few years I have become obsessed with podcasts! I started with ‘Potterless’, a podcast following a grown man reading Harry Potter for the first time. Since then I have enjoyed all kinds of podcast on topics ranging from food chats to historical figures.

I love listening and learning and find podcasts a really great way to learn more about Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. I thought I’d share some of the STEM themed podcasts that I have been absorbed in recently!

30 Animals That Made Us Smarter

This engrossing podcast is presented by Patrick Aryee who is a Biologist and Wildlife TV Presenter. This podcast series has 30 episodes that are all about 15 minutes long, each episode tells you about a different animal that has influenced innovators and lead to the development of new technologies.

Whether you are an animal, science or technology lover you are in for a treat with this podcast series.

My Favourite Episode: ‘Sea Otter and Wetsuit’

This episode dives into how sea otters have influenced a design for a waterproof and warm wet suit. Some of the amazing facts I learnt from this episode were that sea otters have the finest fur in the animal kingdom, they have the same number of hairs per square cm as a blonde person has on their entire head! Also the incredibly dense fur traps pockets of air in between the hairs to keep the otter warm. The hairs have tiny barbs and these help to keep the fur matted together, this makes sure the fur closest to the body stays nice and dry. A team at MIT created innovative experiments and tests to see how these incredible properties can be applied to wet suit design. Find out more in the episode!

Listen now on Spotify or on the BBC here


The Infinite Monkey Cage

‘The Infinite Monkey Cage’ is presented by Professor Brian Cox and Robin Ince. This is an award winning BBC Radio 4 comedy and science podcast. It’s a celebration of science that is eye opening and inspirational. Every episode there is a guest panel normally consisting of two experts and a comedian who is a little less qualified!

I love the fast paced back and forth discussions that delve into real science and topical issues. There are a lot of series so there is more than enough episodes to get your teeth into!

My Favourite Episode: ‘Origin of Numbers’

I was laughing within the first few minutes of this episode with Robin Ince’s quick fire maths jokes. This episode was about all things numbers and had Prof Brian Butterworth (Cognitive Neurosychologist) , Dr Hannah Fry (Mathematician) & Matt Parker (Comedian Mathematician) on the guest panel. I learnt that some of the oldest words common to different languages are counting words (numbers 1 to 5). Also fish can count, yes you read that right! Fish are able to tell which shoal is larger so they can join a bigger group of fish, this helps them as it decreases the likelihood of the individual fish being eaten.

Listen now on Spotify or on the BBC here


Unprofessional Engineering

‘Unprofessional Engineering’ is hosted by James and Luke, this is a podcast that looks into the history of different feats of engineering. Each week they choose an everyday thing and break it down into engineering chunks that are easy to understand.

The 30 minute long episodes are easily digestible and they teach you about all kinds of different topics you may not have thought of!

My Favourite Episode: ‘History of Airplanes – Episode 53’

This great episode went through the timeline of important plane advancements throughout the years, being an aerospace engineer I absolutely loved this one! Some of my favourite historical moments included Edwin Link creating the flight simulator in 1928, this was used by US pilots in World War 2. The incredible Amelia Earhart completing the first solo flight over the Atlantic ocean by a woman in 1932. And the Concorde airliner flying in 1976 at supersonic speeds, travelling from London to New York in 3.5 hours – that’s twice the speed of sound!

Listen now on Spotify and on Soundcloud here

Maisie & Lily

2 Sisters In STEM

Follow Our Blog!

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

Welcome to 2 Sisters In STEM!

Hi!

We are Lily and Maisie, two sisters who have managed to muddle our way to start careers in STEM. There have been ups and downs, brilliant achievements and difficult challenges but all those experiences have led us to where we are today, and we hope sharing our stories will make it all seem a little less daunting and a little more real!

We are both really passionate about science communication, and in particular about encouraging young women to pursue a career in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths). The main thing both of us felt was lacking as we muddled through school, university and ultimately employment was advice and honest chats from young women going through the same things we were! So we thought we had better get cracking and start something we know we would have found really useful a few years back.

We have lots of posts coming up which we hope you will enjoy on all sorts of topics! From GCSE’s to job hunting, from science events to exam tips, you will not want to miss a post. So please follow our blog down below to be notified as soon as they are up! Thanks so much

Lily & Maisie

2 Sisters In STEM

Follow Our Blog!

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