It’s National Science Week and instead of celebrating all things science for just one week, we thought we would celebrate all month long. That’s why we are dedicating the entire month of August to women kicking butt in science and tech. We got the ball rolling with our interview with Madi from Shirty Science and now we are chatting with Erica Heidger from science based start-up The Creative Element.
As well as offering training and consulting services, The Creative Element puts on amazing community events. Their incredibly popular adults-only event, Pretty Dangerous Science, includes workshops where you can learn how to 3D print chocolate or make a robot. Sounds like fun or what?
So how did it all get started? We caught up with Erica to found out.
Leiden: What is your background in science?
Erica: Honestly none, at least not formally. I do not currently hold any formal qualifications; I am self-taught via YouTube mostly.
L: What do you love about science and tech?
E: It’s a great way to express myself, keep interested in new technologies and ideas but most importantly I get to make fun stuff.
L: Why did you start The Creative Element?
E: To share what I had learnt and to use it to help others make their own crazy projects. I love making things but I don’t really know what to do with them when I’m done. This way I get to make things for a purpose.
L: What has been your experience starting a business?
E: It has been tough and you have to be resilient. Everyone says that I’m sure. The upside is I answer only to myself, which is a blessing and a curse at times.
L: You run a whole range of events making science and tech accessible to both kids and adults. Why do you think science communication is so important?
E: Adults who aren’t in related industries tend to stop engaging and keeping up to date with new discoveries and technology and it becomes harder and harder to think critically about concepts when they are being flooded with posts on pseudoscience.
As for the kids it’s crucial that they get on board with Science and technology as it is the most important high growth industry that is likely to have a huge impact on future careers.
L: Tell us about your STEM Sells Program. Why is so important to get more girls studying STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects in school?
E: STEM Sells was created as a collaborative project with the Canberra Innovation Network to give young women a supportive introduction to STEM and to research effective methods of engagement. Truthfully I think it’s important for everyone to study STEM in school, its not something you can avoid anymore. Unfortunately statistics are showing that it isn’t attracting girls at the same rate. With no comprehensive answers as to why that is, STEM Sells is our attempt to use the projects and experiments that were interesting to me, to showcase STEM areas to girls. Whether it works or not remains to be seen but the early reports look promising.
L: What advances in technology are you excited about at the moment?
E: Definitely micro manufacturing. Its giving inventors, hackers (the good sort) and students the ability to make and test ideas cheaply and to collaborate with their peers. I would not have been able to start my business with the advent of the arduino, or ‘internet of things’ technologies and the communities that support them.
L: Also can you please have another 3D printing chocolate workshop so we can come?
E: Well our next workshop is actually about getting adults programming their own mars rover type robots (you can keep it too). [Click here for more information]
It is for complete beginners and it’s a great way to get started in the surprisingly easy world of programming. Check it out and start re engaging with Science!