A day in the life of a Science Communicator

What can be more amazing than looking at eager faces about to enter the Science Centre Singapore in the morning? Those who arrive looking forward to an exciting day of fun filled adventures resemble flowers that bloom in springtime. Sometimes I imagine that the science centre is the season of spring and the science communicator is the sunlight that glosses visitors with knowledge.

My typical day starts with a two hour class in the DNA Learning Lab which is well-equipped to teach students on the various life sciences topics. Microscopy and DNA classes are very popular with the schools that come here for enrichment classes as the students get to conduct experiments and hands-on activities... [read on here]


This is an excerpt of the last post in the ASPAC Blog Train on "A day in the life of a science communicator". Follow the link to read the full post.

Taking science on the road

By Mitchell Crouch, Scitech, Perth Western Australia

Hi my name is Mitchell and I am an Outreach science presenter at Scitech in Perth, Western Australia. My team and I are tasked with taking science on the road to visit every school in WA – from metro schools, to regional towns to some of the most remote and isolated stations our vast State has to offer – we cover it all.

One of the best things about being a science presenter is the sheer variety of tasks to perform. I tend to describe my job, in a nutshell, as ‘science shows and workshops,’ but that doesn’t quite do justice to all the different kinds of programs we do.

Scitech offers a vast suite of programs and workshops for primary and secondary schools, including ‘Space Dome,’ our mobile digital planetarium, Early Childhood workshops for the under 5s, a ‘Beyond the Beaker’ presentation for high school students and a Technology program. It’s fair to say that no two days are the same!

Today, my co-presenter Will and I will be heading to a venue not far from Scitech. It was really nice to have a venue so close – the previous week we had been on the road in the South West of WA and nearly froze to death rugged up in my thermals and scarf. At the same time, we had a team up in the Kimberley absolutely melting! However, when stationed in the Perth Metro area it still isn't unusual for us to travel up to an hour or more from the centre each day to get to where we need to be. Today was nice and close so we afforded a bit of a sleep in!

We arrive at the garage at 7:45am ready to start packing up our truck (affectionately named Ginger) like a giant game of Tetris. To our surprise, when we cracked her open we found that yesterday’s crew had already packed her up ready to go (Man, I love my team). On today’s agenda is a Space Dome show, a Where is Air? show, and Where is Air? workshops.

Ginger, all packed

As it was school holidays, we were heading to a local city council, usually this would mean something like a library or a community hall – you can imagine our surprise when we arrived at a recreation centre larger than my hometown.

Will and I went inside to try to find our contact. After making our way past indoor soccer fields, tennis courts, basketball courts, a heated pool, a café, and a gymnasium, we finally found a reception desk to ask for our contact. 

After being shown to our location, we went about inflating the Space Dome – once this was up and running, Will took the hoard of eagerly waiting kids on a tour of the night sky while I set up the Where is Air? show and workshop.

The Where is Air show setup

Where is Air? is targeted at a lower primary audience, so children generally aged between  4 and 8. Today however, the audience was a mixed bag of ages which made things quite difficult! From wriggly adventurous toddlers to over-eager teenagers, the show was making a wobbly foray into the world of space exploration. After some quick-thinking presenting techniques, Will had the show in a nice balance and was able to keep all parties happy.   

The workshop also faced a similar dilemma with the older children completing the tasks and extension activities in well under the time allocated. In any normal job, this would be a problem. In our job, it's an opportunity.

There's a lot of variation in what we do. It's always different programs about different topics with different people in different places, however, our key messages are constant: science is about asking questions, making predictions, doing experiments, finding out how things work, and recognising that science is relevant to everyday life.

We spent the remainder of the session doing experiments that addressed questions and hypotheses that the children raised themselves, in particular the question – ‘can we use air to make things fly?’ We decided to explore this concept with balloon rockets (balloons taped to straws with string running through the straw). They're easy to make at home, they're safe, they're exciting, and most importantly, they're easy to test and modify.

Will and I slowly increased the length of the string, and the children took on different roles in advancing what became their self-prescribed goal of getting the rocket to go as far as possible. It was great to see the kids working together to hold up the string, retrieve the balloon, reset the experiment and coming up with new ideas to increase the balloon travelling distance.

When the parents arrived, almost every child immediately requested the means to emulate something they'd seen today. Some wanted to do the balloon rocket, some wanted to make a Bernoulli blower out of a hairdryer and a table tennis ball, and some just wanted mum or dad to promise to take them outside to look at the stars like they'd seen in the Space Dome. 

One of the great things about this job is seeing the difference we can make; that little spark that someone takes away that inspires them to look at the world in a different way and empowers them to try new things.

GingerIt was then time for us to pack up and drive home. After we unloaded all the gear off Ginger, we repacked her for tomorrow’s adventure. We then headed into the office to clear some paperwork and share our stories.

As a science presenter, no two days are the same, and no day is ever normal. While the variation makes this job so much fun, it's the things which stay constant that make it so worthwhile and so rewarding every single day.

 

This is a post in the ASPAC Blog Train on "A day in the life of a science communicator". Since Scitech doesn't have its own blog, this post is hosted here on the ASPAC Blog.

If you like this topic, make sure that you check the blog written by Senthil at Science Centre Singapore who is next on the blog train!

Senthil is one of Science Centre Singapore’s in-house experts for our DNA classes, teaching students interesting lab techniques that provide glimpses into the work of a forensic scientist or that of a DNA archaeologist. Senthil has a Degree in Biological Sciences from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. During his one year exchange programme in San Diego State University, Senthil once experimented with rat brain cells which he calls an ‘out of the world’ experience! Check out his post tomorrow.

Check the ASPAC blog train posts below, and go for a ride! 
24 July – Intro blog
27 July – Petrosains (Malaysia)
28 July – Miraikan
29 July – The Mind Museum (Philippines)
30 July – Scitech (Australia)
31 July – Science Centre Singapore

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A Day of Mind Moving

My alarm sounds off. Looking out the window, I see weather that encourages me to stay in bed for a few hours more. Shifting my gaze to my calendar, I see that today is not going to be one of those lazy days in the museum. With a mixture of nervousness and excitement, I get ready for work.

After passing through the gauntlet that is Manila traffic, I arrive at the museum 45 minutes before opening time. Considering that I have a science show to host as soon as the museum opens, I have not arrived early. 

The show I will be hosting is called Fun Physics. As the name demands, I try to make it fun... [read on here]


This is an excerpt of a post in the ASPAC Blog Train on "A day in the life of a science communicator". Follow the link to read the full post.