Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Being 8 years old, staying 8 years old....

I love how even the lab's solutions room can provoke a state of wonder in someone who has never set foot in a library of chemicals before. The -80C freezer also gets a good reaction. That's before we're anywhere near the electrophysiology rig and confocal microscope. Having the chance to open someone's eyes to the realities of working in a lab is pretty great, and it's why I encourage A level students to come in and talk to scientists and spend time watching experiments. Recently, a student asked me if I got bored analysing my data. I answered truthfully: 'yeah, sometimes it's a little repetitive but if I want to know the answer it has to be done!'. She looked confused for a moment and then it dawned on her: "Oh! In my practicals we already know what the graph should look like so it seemed a waste of time!". 

The idea that science is uncertain and creative was alien to her. She had been taught to get the 'right answer'. Happily, she agreed that not knowing was much more fun - and then began reconsidering her plan to study medicine in favour of a pure science. I don't know what she will decide, but I do know that the spark of curiosity we have about science as kids can get lost along the way in that quest for the 'right answer'. We don't talk about uncertainty and failure enough - and certainly not in a way that encourages creativity and mindful observation. But poking the world and seeing what happens comes naturally to kids - and so, these pieces from two 8 year old ScienceGrrls make us grin from ear to ear. Aimee Bromfield-Brown spent a day with ScienceGrrls in the Natural History Museum (Tori Herridge) and Imperial College London (myself, Clare Bakewell and Alexandra Anderson). Lara Smith wrote in to tell us that science was great - we agree! Have a read, and a smile. And then let's work out how we nurture Grrls like them. 


My name is Aimee Bromfield-Brown. I am 8 years old and I love science.

My auntie told me about a group called ScienceGrrl and she contacted them for me. They arranged for me to see a real scientist and a laboratory. My trip was even better because I actually did this:

First I went to the Natural History Museum. I got to see fossils. There were many interesting things like rigid sloth poo - yuk! And a baby dwarf elephant's teeth and bones - wow!

I then went to a lab and a scientist did an experiment and showed me how many colours there are in grass. It actually looked green to me before. There were 3 and it was amazing.

Then I went to another lab where they were doing an experiment about worms and their food. The scientists wanted to know if the worms went to the food that was good for them and avoided food that was bad for them, or whether they tried the bad food first then went to the food that was good for them.

I really liked the science I saw.

ScienceGrrl encouraged me to want to be a scientist even more. That experiment worked!!


Why science is great! By Lara Smith

Science is really cool! There are so many amazing things to find out and do! It is also extra-fun. Read on to find out why…

I think science is fun because you get to find out really cool facts and do really fun experiments such as making gloop or even swinging water over your friend’s head! The great thing about them is that things almost always don’t turn out the way you think they will. Also, there will definitely be a great fact or two to be discovered.

I would like to be a cosmologist when I grow up. This is because I am really interested in cosmology and astrophysics. I have a telescope and have tried to focus it on stars but I’m not able to. Luckily, I have found out more from lots of other sources such as going to the Science Museum and watching the documentary Wonders of the Solar System. I have learnt lots from it and would really recommend it to you. 

My favourite science fact is…

LIGHT TRAVELS AT THE SPEED OF 186,000 miles per sec

So, what do you think? Science is great, but are you interested? I hope you are! If you are, here are some websites you should look at: - help astronomers classify galaxies - explore the surface of mars for the first time
These are both zooniverse projects. For more, go to
 Some programmes to watch:
-Stargazing Live 
or if you like animals…

Thanks Aimee & Lara - you've made our day!

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