“We all need to work together. It’s so important. I’ve never cared so much about anything I’ve ever done before.”
This is part of a series of interviews with science communicators about science communication. Today we are Speaking to… Maggie Philbin
Who do you work for?
I’m CEO of TeenTech
What type of science communication do you do?
TeenTech runs interactive events to help young teenagers understand more about the real opportunities in Science, Technology and Engineering. We’ve also just launched The Teentech Awards – a really cool competition where the winners will not only collect £1000 for their school but will have tea with our patron HRH The Duke of York at Buckingham Palace. Schools need to register before December 14th but then they have until March 22nd to work on their ideas.
Who is your main audience?
Everyone! We want teenagers to understand the skills they will need for tomorrow’s world but to do this we need to reach parents, teachers and companies. We all need to work together. It’s so important. I’ve never cared so much about anything I’ve ever done before.
How did you get into it?
I interviewed a group of teenagers who when asked to name a contemporary scientist or engineer could only name Einstein. The kids were really bright and articulate and explained that they simply didn’t have any role models. TeenTech was set up in 2008 to help change that.
Why do you do it?
I couldn’t bear to see so much talent going to waste. If you walk into a class of 12 year olds you’ll see the enthusiasm and the potential for yourself. But at the moment they don’t know where to channel that latent ability. You wouldn’t believe how many think they are going to win X factor or marry a footballer. I felt there was too much hand wringing about this issue and not enough action. I wanted to DO something.
What do you love about science communication?
It’s so rewarding to see those moments where real change happens – where teenagers profoundly understand that they can be the creators not just the consumers of the technology. It’s also great to see the confidence of companies once we’ve helped them develop strong interactive activities that really work.
What has been your favourite project?
TeenTech is a labour of real love. And it depends on hundreds of people who feel just as strongly as I do about the project. I don’t do this on my own but with wonderful talented and determined people. We inspire each other.
Any tips for those wanting to get into science communication?
Have a look at what’s already going on and find a project where you think you can make a difference. If you care about a project, you’ll bring your very best thoughts and ideas And keep a close eye on feedback – from all sources and act on it.
You can follow Maggie on Twitter at @maggiephilbin