Hello everyone! I’m Joe and I am going to be the first Scientist in Residence for Lab_13 Koli, #pressure. With just 10 more sleeps to go until I fly out to Finland, I thought it was a good time to write our first blog post (though I expect the next ones may be written by some younger hands…).
As a quick personal debrief, my academic career took me to the exotic land of Sheffield where I studied for a Bachelors and Masters degree in Biomedical Science and Science Communication, respectively. Since then, I’ve been engaging young people in STEM and health-related issues in a variety of less exotic places, like the Abu Dhabi, Uganda and Ghana (*wink face*), before settling into a job in London running a variety STEM workshops for the capital’s young people at the Royal Institution.
In mentioning Ghana, I must also mention that this isn’t my first Lab_13 rodeo; last year I was a SiR for Lab_13 Ghana for six months. Though I’d done my research on Lab_13 and understood its ethos, I hadn’t seen it in action. I hadn’t seen the impact that handing the reins of scientific exploration to students can have. In Ghana I saw students taking charge of their own education, asking great questions and finding out the answers through their own investigations. I’m so excited to be a part of broadening the Lab_13 family through this exciting opportunity in Finland.
Every Lab_13 works a little differently and I’m sure this new Lab_13 will too. We’re hoping to create a space within a local school and also work with the National Park’s Nature Centre to develop some form of curiosity space for the community.
I have titled this post ‘Exploring Nature, Naturally’ as it’s my vision for Lab_13 in Koli. Koli is well known for its national park and its stunning landscape which has inspired writers and artists as it transforms between lush summers and brilliantly cold winters; a true hub of biodiversity. Growing up in a place like this must give the community a real connection with nature (something that I often lust for while surrounded by London’s landscape of cranes and scaffolding). My aim for this short three week trip to Koli is to introduce the students and community to Lab_13 as a portal through which they can investigate the world around them in a way that feels natural. I want them to connect their cultural life with science and come up with their own solutions to issues that affect them, or at least find new ways to discuss them.
Finland is well known for its education system where, amongst many other things, teachers are allowed a higher level of freedom to teach their curriculum how they see fit and I believe that Lab_13 is the perfection companion to this system.
And on that note, let us give a big “Cheers!” to Lab_13 Koli or, as they say in Finland, “Kippis!”. Wish me luck (and send me a tweet every now and again @Lab_13Koli)