In February 2016, MET-A-FOR ESR Anna Holderbaum volunteered at the Northern Ireland Science Festival. While engaging with the public at several festival events, I gained a valuable insight into the skills required to effectively communicate on scientific topics. Previously, I had not expected that communicating science would be as much of a challenge as science in the lab! After the science festival, I continued to volunteer for activities with schools. In my role as STEM ambassador I organised and designed science related school workshops and activities, e.g. “Back Titration of Aspirin” and “Working in the Science Industry”. As a result, I also learned that besides excellent communication skills, good project and time management skills are required to deliver successful public engagement events. While it was personally rewarding, it was also a great way of improving and fostering my transferable skills set. I had to work towards an agreed date to deliver the sessions. For the laboratory practical, I adapted my chemistry knowledge and wet chemistry skills to a new situation, i.e. from the research lab to a classroom setting. With limited equipment at hand, I made use of limited resources. Furthermore, I greatly improved my communication skills by presenting my research and related scientific topics to various audiences. This provided me with new perspectives and the ability to see the broader context and impact of my work.
If you are still in doubt as to whether science outreach is for you, just give it a go! Check out the STEM ambassador programme here: https://www.stem.org.uk/stem-ambassadors