‘You’re never too young to be a research scientist!’

Occasionally in life you get the opportunity to stand and talk to one of those amazing people who will influence and shape  the world for future generations. A few weeks ago I was incredibly lucky to do just that when I met Dr Becky Parker MBE and last night, 3rd March 2016, I sat in the IMAX at The Science Museum to witness the official launch of IRIS, the Institute for Research In Schools.

Becky is so many things, a Physicist, Teacher and for me, most impressively, she is one of those people who motivates everyone who comes into her sphere of influence and she gets things done. She is based at The Langton School in Canterbury and it is clear the school has been influential throughout.

I readily admit to harbouring an inner geek. Physics was one of my favourite subjects and even at primary school age I remember having conversations about the plausibility and dangers of long-range space travel with friends. We were ten years old and excited about it, somewhere along the way the passion faded unfortunately. Oh to have been a student of Becky’s.

I was too young to appreciate TV images of Neil Armstrong setting foot on the moon. I’m not sure there was a TV in the house at that point even. To a generation of children Telstar and Apollo were names that inspired dreams and a longing for understanding, they drove a thirst for knowledge and exploration. I hadn’t truly thought properly about it till last night but, how lucky are todays children to have the space station and Tim Peake, to have a world of social media that draws astronauts into our homes daily? The impact that is having for opening children’s horizons, for encouraging them to dream is incredible.

Sat last night in The Science Museum I once again got to hear Becky speak. Her enthusiasm and passion for Physics and teaching is unlocking doorways for generations of children, encouraging them to have confidence in themselves and their ideas.

Who can’t be impressed when you hear how a fifteen year old has made a major advancement in detecting early onset Alzheimer’s.

Listening to children who are collaborating with NASA and ESA whilst at school, for me that is the stuff dreams are made of. I want to stow away on a school trip to CERN in Switzerland and visit the Hadron Collider.

At the Science Museum launch of IRIS speakers included Lord Martin Rees, Dame Mary Archer and Professor Danielle George. The room was filled with amazing people, some had travelled across continents to be there. In awe of the surroundings myself I sat and watched a number of teenagers take to the stand, grasp a microphone and without batting an eyelid talk to a packed auditorium about the projects they are involved in at the moment. Diabetes, mapping oceans, mapping galaxies and showing dark matter exists and they’re not old enough to drive! These children are incredible.

IRIS has been set up as a charity to encourage interaction between schools, universities and business. Dr Becky Parker has been at the forefront of opening up collaborations that bring real benefits to pupils and companies. Her passion and drive is helping to grow talent for the future, fanning the flames of creativity and innovation.

All too often I hear people bemoan the children of today, I have been known to voice the odd grumble but I have to say we are probably at one of the best moments in time for education. If you get to see or hear any of those children speak then you’ll be enriched for it.

Everyone can benefit. I’d love to sit some jaded teachers in front of Becky and revitalise their passion for what they do, for those who direct the path of UK education to talk to her and see possibilities. I’d love more children to hear her talk and realise that there are no barriers; imagine a project and it could well become a reality.

Business people should get the opportunity to hear Becky speak. I first listened to her talk at The Institute of Directors and everyone in the room was electrified. She could have filled a classroom the next morning with adults.

Managers and Directors can learn from Becky. Enthusiasm and passion, fostering an environment where growth and learning are encouraged, one where boundaries and restrictions are stripped away and people are lauded for wanting to grow and try new ideas, these are all ideas we pay lip service to but don’t always follow through on. Becky is lighting the way for future generations.

When these children enter the business world they will naturally be thinking about collaboration, about pushing boundaries, thinking that everything has a solution. They will have an ingrained desire to grow, develop and nurture and we all need to help fan those flames of possibility.

A brave new world is always there for the taking at the start of each new day. The children I listened to last night are grabbing it in both hands and embracing the opportunity, lets see that we all do the same!

Thank you Dr Becky Parker MBE for opening the door to a wonderful journey and encouraging us through.

On a personal note I’d like to thank the lovely Bernie Meredith of Eagle Vision Business Solutions and those at Commonwealth Argosy Events for giving me the opportunity to meet and listen to Becky.

 

Institute for Reasearch In Schools IRIS

Dr Becky Parker Institute of Physics

European Space Agency ESA

National Aeronautics and Space Administration NASA

CERN

Hubble

The Langton School in Canterbury

Neville Gaunt from Mindfit comments on the IRIS launch

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