Have you ever wondered what it's like to volunteer at Science World? We asked our volunteer, Chemist Angela Tether, about her experience under the dome.
Tell us a little bit about your career and how did you end up at Science World?
I have always been really interested in science in general. My formal education is an undergrad degree in Biochemistry and then a PhD in Chemistry. But I’ve worked closely with people in Engineering and Pharmacy departments and now I’m at UBC in an entirely different area. I mostly just want to learn as much as I can about as many different areas as I can and also help foster a love for science in others.
How long have you volunteered with Science World?
I’ve been volunteering regularly since spring break in March, but also did a one off volunteer day for the Science of Cocktails fundraiser at the beginning of the year, which was tons of fun too.
Why did you choose to volunteer at Science World and for Our World?
I think that helping give people, young or old, an opportunity to appreciate and gain an understanding of science and the world around them is really important. Even with my very heavily scientific background, I learn something new every time I’m there and I like sharing in that learning experience with people. I also really like gardening, so being outside in the park for a few hours a week and watching everything grow is really enjoyable in general.
What is your area of expertise?
I suppose in general my area of expertise is sustainability. Using natural, renewable starting materials to replace our dependence on petrochemicals for basically everything. My PhD involved finding non-toxic and biodegradable solvents for industrial processes and then work after that in the UK involved using bacterial fermentation and biomass waste like straw and other food waste products to produce alcohols that can be used for anything from biofuels to being used in the production of vitamins, antibiotics, and flavourings.
What do you like most about volunteering?
The thing I like most is when kids, and in a lot of cases even their adults, get so excited about what they are doing, or watching or learning about. Also the moments when the kids want to share what they’ve learning with you, or what they think is cool or interesting is great.
Being out in the Ken Spencer Science Park has given me an opportunity to learn tons about companion planting, which I find really interesting, and I really want to get to a point where someone can ask me what grows best with what and I will be able to tell them without having to double check the books.
What is your favorite Science World story or moment?
I think I’m going to have to cheat a bit and pick two instead of just one. During spring break I was helping out in the Tinkering Space, mostly on the days when the marble tracks were being made. There was one afternoon when two teenagers came in and spent hours working on them. By the end of it they had come up with some amazingly intricate designs and tracks and in one of their attempts they had a track than twisted all the way around two building areas and half into a third. It was cool.
The second moment was out in the park when the same 3-year-old and his mom visited for a few Sunday afternoons in a row and he was so excited to get to help with the weeding. He had quite an eye for exactly which ones were weeds and which were the beginning shoots of plants. He also had the widest smile when he pulled out the weeds and dumped them in the bucket for compost.