Meet a Scientist Talking Points
As part of MESA’s outreach efforts, our members have talked with school children and general audiences about what it’s like to be a scientist. (Examples of our participation include LENScience’s Meet a Scientist events, and the Physics Teachers Picnic in Wellington.) We’ve prepared this guide as a summary of talking points and other notes relating to such ‘Meet a Scientist’ sessions:
1. General messages about science:
- Science isn’t just for the supremely intellectually gifted – hard work and perseverance go a long way. Just about anyone can be a scientist. It is more about the mindset rather than sheer intellect.
- There is tremendous creativity involved in science. You have to come up with things, think on your feet and never have the same day twice. It is close to art in the sense of the free thinking and leading your own direction.
- Science, and physics in particular, provides a great general springboard into anything you want – engineering, computer science, IT, communication, finance.
- The scope of science at university is tremendously broad, from nanoscience to black holes, and literally everything in between.
- Provides fantastic travel opportunities, for conferences, internships, even entire degrees done abroad.
- Hands on career – it’s not all labcoats and computers! You get to try a bit of everything – talking, writing, designing, experimenting.
- Patience is one of the key traits. Science can be finicky and experiments usually don’t work. But patience and time give insight which is what scientists are searching for – even if it is totally different to the initial hypothesis!
- Once you’re finished, pay is quite reasonable, compared with many other careers. But if you’re simply doing it for the money, consider something else, as a career in science can be very demanding relative to the payoff.
- Science teaches you how to deal with failure. Science is addictive.
2. Some MESA / MacDiarmid / nanotech messages:
- Nanoscience is at the intersection between physics, chemistry, biology and engineering. Can be very interesting and challenging in how interdisciplinary it is.
- There are plenty of possibilities for transfers between science and industry, and support exists for that pathway.
- Knowing a good set of tools can make a large difference, particularly tools that assist in self-learning and understanding outside the classroom.
3. Possible questions you may be asked:
- What do you like the most about your job?
- Why did you become a scientist?
- Did you always know you wanted to be a scientist? (And from when? As a small child? From high school?)
- Growing up, were you good at science in school? (Alternatively, were you good at all science?)
- What is a typical workday as a scientist like?
- How much do you get paid?
- How many countries have you been to?