After studying Biology and Chemistry at University, Susan Ford joined the International Centre for Life as a Science Explainer.
What sort of events do you take part in?
It’s really varied, one day I could be taking our inflatable planetarium into schools to show pupils stars and planets, another day I could be handling millipedes and other minibeasts with toddlers on our Preschool Days. During the week I’m often teaching hands-on science workshops to school groups in our labs, and on the weekend performing science theatre shows and chatting to visitors to the exhibitions. And from time to time other exciting opportunities come up, during the British Science Festival I was Science Busking in the train station!
Who is usually your audience?
I think science is for everyone, obviously there are a lot of children that visit the Science Centre but we always speak to the adults that are with them too.
What do you do to capture people’s interest in science research?
Showing people how scientific research is relevant to their own lives and other things they are interested in always helps to engage them. I think sometimes people are surprised to hear about world-class research that is happening here in the North East, but they are always proud when they know it’s happening on their doorstep.
Is it difficult to explain complicated science in ways that everyone can understand?
It can be challenging but it’s really satisfying when you find a way to help them understand.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
The look on someone’s face when you help them to discover something new, something that they hadn’t even given much thought to before. I also love the reaction to some of our more spectacular science demonstrations. You always get a cheer from the audience after you have set fire to a child’s hand without burning it!
Why is it important for ordinary people to get into science?
It’s important that everyone has the chance to understand the science behind all sorts of issues, such as GM crops, as they can have an impact on their lives. If you are better informed you can make your own mind up, rather than just believing what the media says.