By Katie Walsh, Map Manager for Hidden Science
How do you convince the next generation of potential scientists and engineers that a career which is, apart from the obvious stereotypes largely invisible to them a) really exists and b) will welcome them?
One way of doing this is to show children and young people where all this science is. Luckily Google have kindly provided a way to see where everything is, so a combination of Google Map technology and good old fashioned profiling makes up the Hidden Science Map, a new web application from the Science Council, and a partner project to our Future Morph site.
Currently the Hidden Science Map has a pretty monumental almost 1,000 profiles pinned onto it – the biggest collection of scientist and engineer, technologists and maths people and organisations in the UK, if not the world. A very good start, but our target is 5,000 pins on the map – this, we feel, will genuinely cover all of the UK (and further afield of course) and provide an incredibly rich source of information for children and young people so they can discover the thousands of jobs there are out there for them if they take their science further at school.
We see making a profile as a small voluntary act on your part that will delight someone near you when they realise that such an interesting career happens right round the corner from them. That’s why we want to spread the word and get to our 5,000 target, so someone who’s taken the time to be inspiring is always just on the doorstep.
It’s been very interesting that so far lots, maybe most, of our pins come from people who have declared that they are the first in their family to forge a career in science, or even to go to university. This is the most welcoming thing of all to say to a child or teenager who likes science but feels that they will have to break the mould to achieve their goal.
We held an event at the Metrocentre in Gateshead on 23rd May that showed the map can be an inspiration for some creative art work too. The children of Year 6 (11 year olds) from Richardson Dees Primary School in Wallsend first studied the map for a scientist of interest to them, then created a map pin for them using a bit of science research and some nifty needlework. Enjoy the final result, which looks lovely. They all said when asked that the only science person they knew about already was a paramedic.
We also asked our STEM Careers Panel from the Map and from the Metrocentre, if they’d mind shopping in their science garb for us. We can now prove that although you wouldn’t know science people are all round you unless they kept their lab and workwear on, they really are, doing pretty normal things too. These images will also help us to get more ‘high street’ scientists on the map we hope, at the moment sadly lacking.
How to Get Involved
Making a profile is pretty straight forward. Once you’ve perused the map a little to get a feel for how best to explain your job or studies to the young non-expert go to the ‘Get on the Map’ section of the site and it takes you through the process. You can stop at the first page – or carry on for a full profile. It would be great to get a photo from you rather than using the fall-back images, even if it’s of your office rather than you, so have one handy, and don’t forget to move the pin from the North Sea to where you are.
Your pin will not pop up instantly on the live map – we moderate all entries – but it will normally be up in a day. So, if you can spare 10 minutes,or half an hour to make a profile that would be great – and a bit more time to spread the word to that network you belong to, or those old ini chums, even better.
We hope you’ll enjoy creating a profile for the map, and look forward to seeing it.