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Day 79/365: Cassini Outreach - Sauntering Vaguely Downward [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat

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Day 79/365: Cassini Outreach [20180320|21:23]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
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[the weather today is |happy]

I went to a girls' school today to talk to 50 Year 6 students (aged 10-11) about the Cassini mission and the work I do. To say "it went well" would be an understatement. I talked for about 30 minutes and then spent the next 40 minutes answering their questions. They would have kept me longer, but their teacher insisted they go to their last lesson of the day. A group of them also asked me to sign some of the lithographs of Saturn that I'd brought to give them.

This was all pretty brilliant on its own, but then their teacher told me the following story. I had previously visited in November of last year to give a similar talk to the Year 5 students at this school. One of the girls in the class had, up until my visit, been adamant for a couple of years that she was going to be a hairdresser. After my visit, however, she had gone home and told her mother, "Mummy, I've changed my mind. I'm not going to be a hairdresser."

"Oh?" replied her mother. "What are you going to be now?"

"I'm going to be a space scientist. Or an engineer."

Five months later, she has not changed her mind. She's now one of the top-performing students in her science classes.

I know this girl is very young. I know she may as yet change her mind again. But if bringing to life the possibility of becoming a scientist or engineer to one girl, for whom that was a remote possibility at best, were literally the only effect my outreach efforts had ever had on any of the hundreds of students I've visited in the last twelve years*, it would be worth it.

* I'm fairly sure it's not.

This entry was originally posted at https://nanila.dreamwidth.org/1139042.html. The titration count is at comment count unavailable.0 pKa.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: susandennis
2018-03-20 18:53 (UTC)
OMG there's a whole group of people who, in years to come, will have days on end of bad hair days and it will be all on you. But, otherwise, good work.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2018-03-21 18:04 (UTC)
You never know, she might do her beauty school training on the side. It's always good to have a backup plan. :D
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[User Picture]From: nationofsheep
2018-03-20 19:05 (UTC)
Well done. So happy to read this.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2018-03-21 18:04 (UTC)
Thanks! It was nice to have the feedback. It's not often that I get to hear so specific an example of having made a lasting impression.
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[User Picture]From: daphnep
2018-03-20 19:48 (UTC)
OH. Oh!

My heart. Thank you for sharing this. Every step counts. This is one of those little things that turn into big things, and I believe in those, so much.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2018-03-21 18:12 (UTC)
I hope it stays with her - the confidence that she can do science, that is. Even if she doesn't choose it as a subject of study or a career.
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[User Picture]From: lindahoyland
2018-03-22 06:25 (UTC)
hope the girl's dreams come true.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2018-03-22 11:34 (UTC)
Me too. :)
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[User Picture]From: meringues
2018-03-22 23:24 (UTC)
That's incredible how long you spent just answering questions!
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2018-03-23 06:22 (UTC)
Yep. Every girl asked at least one question. It's pretty draining doing these events but it seems that it's worth it. :)
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[User Picture]From: kk1raven
2018-03-31 16:23 (UTC)
Wow! That's a great story. I hope the girl does get to become a scientist or engineer.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2018-04-04 07:44 (UTC)
There's still a lot of time between now and university, but I hope she at least keeps the confidence that she can do STEM subjects if she wants to.
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