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.
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pax_athena: (pick up the sun)

From: [personal profile] pax_athena

<3 <3 <3 <3 <3

(For me, outreach is literally what keeps me going through the dark moments of the job.)
ironymaiden: (the world is awesome)

From: [personal profile] ironymaiden


i am looking at going back to school and thinking with some regret about the opportunities i missed when i was younger because i didn't have any idea what someone like me could do. go you, go little girl.
thekumquat: (Default)

From: [personal profile] thekumquat

Excellent. For reference, I think Quatlet and Quatling have only met you once or twice and were much more interested in the custard buns than you at the time, but simply being able to mention that meal being the one with my friend the rocket scientist has, I think, helped them years later both think that controlling rockets is a viable career, assuming the YouTubing and running the cafe at Tesco's doesn't earn enough.

Apparently when Reception did Space last year, Quatling did pipe up with "i've met a rocket scientist"! See, you're doing outreach simply by existing!
st_aurafina: Rainbow DNA (Default)

From: [personal profile] st_aurafina

*fistpump of victory for girls in STEM* That is amazing! Go you!
roarofsilence: (Default)

From: [personal profile] roarofsilence

This post made me a bit emotional! <3 That's literally amazing, if you raised even just one young woman's dreams then that's worth it a thousand times over. Go you. :)

From: [personal profile] soliano

A living example of why representation and role models are so important. Brava!
cmcmck: (Default)

From: [personal profile] cmcmck

My niece took forever to make her uni choices and it's turned out to be criminology!

Where did that come from? :o)

(no subject)

From: [personal profile] cmcmck - Date: 2018-03-22 01:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
pbristow: (Gir: "Yaay!!!")

From: [personal profile] pbristow

Yay!!! =:o]

Also: I'm pretty sure the ISS astronauts do sometimes need haircuts. In microgravity. Multi-skilling FTW. =;o}
silveradept: A kodama with a trombone. The trombone is playing music, even though it is held in a rest position (Default)

From: [personal profile] silveradept

That's exactly the thing we want to see - more people recognizing themselves in science because there's someone there to show them they can do it.
Edited Date: 2018-03-21 05:27 pm (UTC)
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