We recently got the chance to interview Dr Alexandra Greenhill about her background and about the importance of informal science education:
Tell us a little about yourself. What did you study?
I studied medicine in university and became a family physician, but I was interested in coding as early as high school.
I am an elected school board trustee for the public Francophone school board of BC and value not only the importance of French in the school curriculum, but science as well.
Our family has a Science World membership and we appreciate the value of the pass—knowing that you can integrate your visit into your daily life is a great thing. When you just come for the day, you feel as though you have to maximize your time. When you have a membership you can stop by on the way to the park or for a couple hours in the evening. It’s an opportunity for my kids to be constantly exposed to science. It becomes a habit.
Science World has a unique benefit with their passes that allows my nanny to be listed on the card. She can go with the kids while I am at work, at no extra cost to us. This is different from the passes offered at other museums and educational spaces here in Vancouver.
Why do you feel that informal science learning is important?
Science is part of our everyday lives. Exposing your kids to science helps them become well rounded. When kids visit Science World, they’re able to touch the exhibits and associate learning with fun.
Tell us a little about myBestHelper. What does it do and how does it do it?
myBestHelper is a service that connects families with caregivers in Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary. We're now expanding across Canada and the US. We have 800 families signed up for our services and over 1,600 service providers. Our company motto is based on the best technology available—4G: good (at what we do), great (at how we do it), global (in reach) and giving (to our community).
What factors motivated you to set up myBestHelper?
myBestHelper resulted from a challenge that I was having in my personal life. I was using technology in my professional life and realized that there was lots of electronic support for problem solving in the office, but nothing on the home front. Until recently, I was still searching for caregivers through old, out-dated channels. I decided that I could solve the search for a caregiver problem by using modern technology.
Where do you picture Science World in five years?
Science World helps British Columbians see how their world is powered. We don’t often think about how or why our cell phones work, for example. Science World will continue to be a natural conduit of science and technology education.
Where do you picture myBestHelper in five years?
We’ve modelled myBestHelper after Airbnb and want to be in every major city. People know their local options, but if they move to a new city, they’re unsure where to go. We want to offer our service to those individuals.
Bonus Question: who is your favourite scientist?
Richard Feynman, mid-century astrophysicist. I’ve read all of the books on him. I remember one story where Feynman was lecturing in Rio de Janeiro for 10 months. He had decided to learn how to play a frigideira (a steel percussion instrument) on the side, so that he could take part in the carnival parade as part of a samba school. When friends invited him to watch the parade; he surprised them by saying that he was part of it.
Feynman is an example of the curiosity that’s needed to be a scientist. For me, medicine is about curiosity—and so is doing a tech start-up. Curiosity is such an important element of what you do here at Science World. Curiosity will not only help kids prepare for any career, but also for a life time of fun!
Dr Alexandra Greenhill is a Co-Founder and the CEO of myBestHelper. She is one of Science World's Equity Donors.