Mad Scientess Jane Expat (nanila) wrote,
Mad Scientess Jane Expat

Outreach activity

This morning, I gave a talk in Lambeth to 22 nine-year-olds (Year 5, for those familiar with the UK educational system). I told them about Cassini and Saturn and Saturn’s moons, and speculated on how life might be able to survive on Titan or Enceladus.

I also gave them a survey with four questions to fill out, two for before the talk and two for after. I can’t resist sharing some of the choice responses.

  1. What do you picture when you imagine a scientist?

    • "The scientist using glasses. A white hat and kind of a white cloth like a white dress."
    • "I imagine a scientist looking at a rocket"
    • "2 patches of white hair, very very thick glasses"
    • "Very very very smart" [Gosh!]
    • "I imagine 2 big glases and the vestments all white" [Vestments? Wow!]
    • "with glasses and mysterious" [Awesome.]
    • "When one man can rech the moon."
    • "A geek because on t.v. I see scientists and they are geeks!" [Great, now I hate the media even more.]

  2. What do you think scientists do each day?

    • "Explore. Try and take over world"
    • "They do tests on stuff and make potions."
    • "Sciens" [This was repeated more than once. *headdesk*]
    • "Lern difrent ting each day"
    • "When they rech the moon they see they have big hole in the moon." [O_O]
    • "They discovered space"

  3. Has your opinion of scientists changed? How?

    • "Yes, I now think they’re really fantastic and interesting." [Yay!]
    • "They are not always in labs and are happy people." [Huzzah!]
    • "NO." [Considering how many of them wrote variations on “a man in a white coat with glasses” for the answer to the first question, I found this slightly depressing. Of course, there were about an equal number of unadorned “YES” answers as well.]
    • "Yes change because is really good" [Aw.]
    • "They need to know lots stuff practices sciences skills, they have PhD"
    • "the men said “girl can come in”." [I...I don’t even know what to say about this.]
    • "The spase [sic] lads like a plan." [HAHAHA]

  4. What’s your favourite thing that you learned today?

    • "The worms that live in Tiban [sic] and what Saturn looks like." [I didn’t say there were worms that lived on Titan, btw. I was trying to make a case for the survival of life in extreme environments using the giant tube worms that live near sulphur vents in the ocean.]
    • "About the Titan."
    • "Learning about the solar system. And the moon. It was fantastic."
    • "Learn about scientist." [NB: They didn’t exactly ask me a lot of questions about myself!]
    • "They [as in astronauts] put things on to protect themselves."
    • "If you go near the sun without raidiation [sic] protection you would melt."
    • "The things you could buy with £3.2 billion." I said Cassini cost $3.2 billion, and told them that would buy them 7500 Lamborghinis or 8 million iPods. They LOVED that bit. ?!

Also included were some quite detailed drawings of Cassini, of rockets, and of astronauts. The next time I do this, I plan to add a question about whether or not they believe aliens exist, and will divide the questionnaire so that the “Before” questions are on one side of the sheet and the “After” questions on the other.

They asked me loads of questions about how to get into space and about what astronauts eat and how they breathe. They also asked me about how the Space Shuttle can come back to Earth, and when I explained that it landed just the same way a plane did, with wheels that came down from the bottom, they gasped. I was quite surprised to find that it was my answers to these questions that impressed them the most.

Next up is a session for 40 sixteen-year-olds (Year 12) at the end of June. For a person with a mortal dread of public speaking, I sure have signed up to do a lot of it.
Tags: cassini, imperial, science, teaching
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