Soapbox Science: Maggots, honey, a back brush and 10kg of rice…..

2013-07-05 12.28.41By Professor Hilary Lappin-Scott, Swansea University

The first time I heard about Soapbox Science was through twitter.  It was July 2012 and Athene Donald (@athenedonald) and other female STEM scientists were getting ready to speak at the Soapbox Science event in London.  It sounded wonderful, an exciting mixture of challenging oneself to speak, whilst literally standing on a soapbox in the heart of London to passersby about your science. The tweets coming from that day made me really want to join in and I decided that I would apply to be a speaker myself for the following year. Some months later I saw the tweet from the two founders of Soapbox Science, Nathalie Pettorelli (@Pettorelli) and Seirian Summer (@Waspwoman) encouraging applications.  I actually applied through direct messaging (DM) on twitter and was delighted to be accepted.  The process to apply to be a speaker for 2014 is now open and can be found here.


My next step was how to prepare.  Luckily, as Pro-Vice Chancellor, I get all of the support I need from my University so the PR office quickly agreed to do a podcast  for me to publicise the event and my talk. I also prepared a blog on this too. I am not the most imaginative person so struggled at first in preparing props that would grab attention for public engagement.  Eventually I settled on a large back brush, toothpaste, some maggots, lots of bags of rice and a jar of honey. You had to be there to see how I used these, but my volunteer helper was crucial in smooth operations that day! I enjoyed meeting my fellow Soapbox Sciencers and Nathalie and Seirian did a brilliant job in bringing in sponsorship and publicity. The day was very enjoyable but extremely demanding, I spoke for the entire hour and was thankful to have a responsive audience with lots of questions and interest.


I was pleased when I was asked whether we might hold a Soapbox Science event in Swansea during 2014 and leaped at the chance. We have chosen our venue, next to the 360 degree Beach and Watersport Centre and next to a very busy promenade along the seafront. We have put together an organising team of ten, led by Geertje van Keulen, set the date of July 5th and promise it will be a wonderful showcase of female STEM research. I encourage you to apply to be a Soapbox Science speaker at the London event on June 29th 2014, at the Bristol event on June 14th 2014, at the Dublin event organized by Natalie Cooper on April 26th 2014 (see @nhcooper123) or at Swansea on July 5th 2014.  Come on in, the water is lovely.

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