Our team of PhD students that work as postgraduate demonstrators delivering workshops are an important part of the Secondary and Post-16 Science programme at Manchester Museum. Their enthusaism and science communication skills really bring the sessions to life, as well as giving the students access to young scientists that can act as positive role models for the students visiting the museum. Rebecca Brading, a PhD students in Faculty of Life Sciences at University of Manchester joined our team in September 2011 and has written a blog post about her experience below:
When I first began my PhD, Alexa Jeanes from the Manchester Museum gave a talk about working as a demonstrator. At the time, I knew that I enjoyed working with secondary and post-16 students through my work as a STEM ambassador, and I was beginning to realise how much I liked talking about science. Working as a LifeLab demonstrator sounded perfect for me, and I was lucky enough to be invited to a group interview. However, this included giving a talk to the rest of the group about my PhD- something that I found very nerve-wracking at the time.
During the interview, a current demonstrator called Liz Granger gave a talk about working in the LifeLab, and she told how working there had completely changed how she felt about public speaking. Having worked as a demonstrator for a year now, I have to say that I completely agree- now my biggest problem with public speaking is remembering to stop talking at some point!
It is not just my confidence that has massively improved, it is also my ability to organise and plan sessions, think and adapt on my feet, and help students to learn without just giving them the answer. I have realised just how much I enjoy working with this age group- my experience has been of witty, creative and massively enthusiastic young people.
Something that I wasn’t expecting is how inspiring it can be running a LifeLab session. Seeing how eager and determined the students are, coupled with how interested they can be in my PhD research, really rejuvenates my enthusiasm for my own project (which is helpful when things don’t go so well).
Working at the Manchester Museum has opened a new world of opportunities for me within life sciences, and I now also work as a Widening Participation Fellow for the University of Manchester, as well as being involved in other study days and open days at the Manchester Museum. It can be difficult trying to juggle all these different roles with doing my PhD, but the rewards more than make up for the challenges. It has been a fantastic experience so far, and I am always looking forward to delivering my next workshop at Manchester Museum.
You can find out more about Becky’s PhD research at her blog: http://ddar.manchester.ac.uk/blog/