Could slime be the way to scientific success?

It seems history is repeating. When I was a kid there was a new big craze in the playground, if you didn’t have some you just weren’t cool. Sweetshops, supermarkets and convenience stores were selling it and it seems it’s back but this time with vengeance. What am I talking about?

Slime.

The difference is back in the late 90s when I felt like a cool kid with a pocketful of slime, we just bought it. However, today it seems kids don’t want to buy this stuff instead they want to make it and experiment themselves. I think I’ll retract the statement about feeling like the cool kid. If I’m honest I didn’t like the texture of slime as a kid and not much has really changed now. Whether it’s the stuff that makes fart noises or the ectoplasm aliens in plastic eggs seem to be being delivered to Earth in (via your local convenience store), every kid has some.

The thing I like though is the experimentation which is going on. Subconsciously, kids across the UK are experimenting with science without even realising it. With something as trivial as slime the next generation are getting involved in the world of experimentation like no other before them (potentially). Last week I watched a couple of kids experiment with whatever they could find in the house to make their own slime. They used anything from nail varnish, washing powder, flour, toothpaste literally everything they could find which they didn’t think was harmful. Although I’m not sure my nose agreed with the non-harmful part with the fumes which radiated from the kitchen and I wouldn’t recommend just using anything either. What they didn’t realise until I started chatting to them was the fact they were performing a chemical reaction in order to make slime.

Fascinating?

Maybe not to me and you but to the kids “having a go” at home, science is just something they must study at school and is normally quite a boring and dissatisfying subject. But let’s look at this from the wider perspective. I am female and I have a degree in the Sciences but that was never my intention. At school science was boring and double science on Monday did not fill me with much joy. Teachers could only be described as either utterly mad or so old school it hurt. Classes arranged in rows alphabetically, sitting boy-girl-boy-girl and detention for not being quiet was it any real surprise that we hated it? It wasn’t really until I was ready to select my A-levels (science was 100% not on that list) was it that younger more exciting teachers began to be employed.

I did however find human biology enjoyable but was I going to try to make a career out of it?

Was I hell?

No, I wanted to be a writer. Hence, why this blog was born and why I’m studying for a Masters in Science Communication. Although sometimes I question why with the knock backs and negativity I’ve had over the last couple of years but that’s a post for another day. The thing is there wasn’t much going on to fulfil our little minds and even if there was we probably didn’t take it in as “scientific”. Dippy the Diplodocus, the resident Natural History Museum dinosaur was not only historical but also scientific, something I didn’t even think about until he left the NHM.

So, if you’re little darlings are pestering you for the ingredients for the perfect slime then before you rush off to the shop in terror you could actually play a part in making science more accessible and enjoyable for all. The problem is science is still seen largely as a subject where mad men with mad hair and white coats perform well…mad experiments. But that’s something I would like to change. Science encompasses so many different topics from medicine to engineering and can be a major game changer. Since I graduated two years ago I’ve seen a whole new number of different degrees emerge from human nutrition (yes guys that’s a science) to health data analytics.

So, what am I trying to say?

The main take away really is let’s get involved both adults and children. Whether it’s making slime or testing the Mentos and Diet Coke experiment out (with caution I should add), we should all be talking about it. Science doesn’t have to be boring and although I have chosen a career path in science now that was never my intention and I was never encouraged to do so. Neither was I encouraged to ask questions or wonder how things work. This is changing. Children today are doing exactly that.

Why is that promising?

These are the scientists, the doctors, the teachers, the analysts, the engineers of the future. So, from something as inconsequential as slime they will start asking the questions that may help to impact the society we live in in the future.

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