After my recent curation of the @realscientists twitter account, I was contacted by Rachael Lehr who runs a Girls STEM club at West Beechboro Primary School. She asked me if I would be interested in coming along to their after school club to talk to the girls about being a scientist. These kind of initiatives encompass so many things that I’m passionate about (girls in STEM, talking about spiders, engagement with ecology, scientists in schools) so I couldn’t say yes quickly enough!
The only problem is that I have full time care of our toddler at the moment, and it’s not always possible to find a baby sitter. When I broached the idea of bringing him along to the session Rachael was thrilled and very supportive (this is important, I would never have felt confident enough to try a school visit with a toddler in tow without her support!).
So although I was little uncertain of how it would pan out, I packed my “How I became a spider scientist” talk, a few toys and the toddler and headed off to West Beechboro Primary.
And it couldn’t have gone better! I was met at the door by cries of “It’s the spider lady, and she’s brought her baby!” the girls were so excited to see us. They were such a wonderful group, clearly very bright and engaged. I gave my talk to a sea of interested young faces and had a wonderful time answering the flood of questions after I finished. There were hardly any disgusted faces at the spider photos I showed them (something I’m used to from most adults) and they seemed genuinely interested in the science I presented.
As an added bonus my little one was very well behaved. He stayed in a carrier on my back for the first half and then Rachael kindly took him to play with some toys when he started to get wiggly.
It was such a great experience visiting this wonderful group of girls and it’s left me with tremendous hope for the future. The amazing efforts of Rachael will go a long way towards creating the scientists and leaders of our future. If you’d like to see more of what Rachael’s up to you can follow her (@rachaellehr) and her class on twitter