As a STEM communicator at Aberdeen Science Centre, the highlight of Adam Sweeney’s day is seeing a child’s facelight up with wonder and excitement.
His love of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects opened a door as a volunteer, which inturn led to a full-time place at university.
He credits volunteering as part of the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme as a school pupil with changing his life.
“I got involved with Aberdeen Science Centre three years ago and reflecting now, what a change I’ve seen, in both myself and the centre,” said Adam. “I started volunteering as part of the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme and coming in through the doors at Constitution Street I remember feeling quite intimidated, however my trepidation was misplaced.
“The staff here are what make the place what it is. They’re the friendliest bunch of people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting who really want to deliver on quality in shows and workshops.
“Since the start of secondary school, I have always enjoyed science and when I came to ASC, for the first time in my life, I was surrounded by people who shared this vivid curiosity with how the world works, it was a perfect fit.”
After completing his Duke of Edinburgh Award, Adam decided to continue volunteering then successfully applied for a part-time role as a STEM communicator.
“Every day there’s at least one kid that really gets it. You see their eyes light up and they ask you loads of questions, often getting just as excited as you. Engagements like that are what make this job worthwhile, it’s about inspiring a passion for science.”
Aberdeen Science Centre is currently based at 107 George Street, offering hands-on interactive exhibits, workshops and events while the centre undergoes a multi-million-pound redevelopment.
The revamped centre is due to reopen in summer 2020, with Bancon Construction carrying out works at The Tramsheds on Constitution Street, including an extension and creation of a new mezzanine floor which will almost double the exhibition space.
“Day to day is always varied and with themes changing every few months there is little opportunity to get jaded. The day will involve some mixture of shows, experimental workshops and birthday parties or groups. I used to be quite a shy person, hesitant to do shows and perform experiments, but now it comes as easily as breathing,” said Adam.
“Science rocks! It’s so simple yet so complicated. What often puts people off is the prestige associated with science - it’s quite intimidating. Throughout school I experienced this, especially during exam time when it felt like life or death. However, to do good science, all it takes is persistence and curiosity.
“My advice is to stick at it! Charles Darwin spent 40 years studying earthworms and although it is quite clichéd, it all started with something small. His uncle showed him a spot in his garden where he had spread ashes and lime and the Earthworms had churned it up, Darwin was hooked.
“Of course, not everyone gets curious about earthworms and not everyone has 40 years to study them, but it makes a point - there’s something to be curious about in everything around us.”
Adam is now studying biology at the University of Aberdeen.
“University has been amazing so far! I’ve met amazing people and there are so many opportunities. My degree has been really interesting with my favourite topic being the physiology of muscles.
“At the University of Aberdeen, you have the opportunity to participate in a sustained study programme where you study one subject alongside your main degree for the first two years. I am doing this in Arabic, which has been extremely interesting.
“I’m sure that as I progress with my degree that my time at the science centre will only become more involved. As my knowledge advances so too will my ability to contribute extra depth to my shows and perhaps design some of my own. It’s been a wonderful three years at Aberdeen Science Centre.”
· For more information on Aberdeen Science Centre, visit www.aberdeensciencecentre.org
Issued on behalf of Aberdeen Science Centre by The BIG Partnership. For more information or photo opportunities, please contact Shona Hendry on 01224 253815 / 07739 314158or Emma Panton on 01224 253811 or 07716 231999.