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dr leigh hoath

Senior Lecturer, Science Education, Institute of Childhood and Education, Leeds Trinity University

 

And - Editor of the Association for Science Education’s Primary Science journal

Science isn’t about lab coats and potions. Science is everywhere. There are not many jobs that science isn’t part of.

What do you do?

I have many facets to my ‘job’ but in short I train students to become science teachers! I am the PGCE Course Leader for the secondary sciences routes (Biology, Chemistry and Physics) and have the privilege to work with around 40 postgraduates each year, supporting their journey to becoming teachers. In addition to this I also teach on the primary science modules for the undergraduate degree. I have personal experience across the primary and secondary age phases which makes me quite unusual in the science education world. I teach on the Masters programme (I try my best to make Research Methods exciting!) and am the educational outreach consultant to BASF – the world’s largest chemical company.

 

Most recently I have worked for the BBC on their Blue Planet Live series to design activities and teacher materials - see here and here.

Why did you choose this field?

I remember teaching a fabulous lower 6th Biology A level class – I taught in two different secondary schools. I realised that these children were amazing, I was in a lovely school and that if I wasn’t careful I was going to be there for the next 30 years. I didn’t want to go to another school with different children so decided to explore the option of Teacher Education. My first role was in an higher education department and after 8 years there I moved on to another institution before landing what I would currently describe as my dream job.

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

"None of it would have been possible if I had not written my first 400 word book review which started me on the writing process.'

All of it but perhaps there are two elements to this which are related. One is writing books and articles and having people talk to me as someone who knows ‘stuff’ in this science education field. The second is my doctorate which I wrote up whilst on maternity leave with my (now 5 year old) twins. I suffer imposter syndrome massively as I think many of us do but there are times when I look and really think about what I have achieved I make an audible WOW. I have done some work with the BBC – I mean, that was never on my agenda and it is amazing that I have managed this. 

Why do you love working in STEM?

"The challenge of turning those science loathers into science lovers is what keeps me going."

What is not to love? One of the things I aim to do with my undergraduate is convince them science is for them. They generally come to the first science module fearing it having had a bad experience of science at school. Almost without exception, through making science interesting, accessible and relevant they grow to love it. They see how they can inspire children in their classes and through their own learning experiences their teaching grows. I absolutely love this transformation.

Best advice for the next generation

Just do it. There is not such thing as science not being for girls. All areas of STEM are accessible for girls to study and work with. But sometimes it takes looking further… science isn’t about lab coats and potions. Science is everywhere. There are not many jobs that science isn’t part of.

Fun fact

My favourite place to visit is the Isle of Mull, Scotland. Tobermory was used for the filming of the children’s series Balamory but one day when I am really old I am going to live there with dogs, horses and a small farm!