February 11 is International Day of Women and Girls in Science. We want to recognise some of the inspiring women we have at Scitech so we caught up with Scitech Presenter Kimberley Phoon who talks about her love of chemistry.
From a young age, Kim was always curious about why things work. How does an air-conditioning unit heat and cool? Where does our rubbish go after we throw it away? Or even where the water goes after flushing the toilet.
Questions like these would constantly spark Kim’s curiosity, wanting to understand the “why’s” and find out about the “how’s” of the world we live in.
Learning throughout school that science and maths is the foundation and can explain so many things in our everyday lives led Kim to wanting to pursue a career where her curiosity and problem-solving could be fulfilled even further.
Kim enrolled in Chemistry and Chemical Engineering degrees at Curtin University and it was in her third year of study that she undertook a research project on the attitude and influences of females going into STEM projects.
“What I found is that peer pressure can be a huge barrier at school.” says Kim. “Positive role models such as teachers can really make a difference and influence more girls to stay in science fields. The balance is changing due to more women in these fields.”
It was during this time that Kim also signed up as a volunteer with Scitech. “When I was volunteering I would chat with visitors in the Science Centre and basically gave out unsolicited science facts,” she laughs.
Fast forward eight years, Kim is still chatting with visitors but on a fulltime basis as a Scitech Science presenter. While the amazing and sometimes explosive on-stage demonstrations and science experiments really appeals to her it’s the time she spends with audience members after shows that really excites her. “I love seeing people get excited about the science that I’m excited about,” she says.
“When children and parents have questions after my shows, it means that they’ve been thinking and are able to connect what they’ve learned to part of their world! When someone gives you the answer to something you’d never really thought about, you’ll then want to ask more questions.”
Kim hopes that through her role as a Scitech presenter as well as a passionate female scientist, she can inspire more girls into exploring science and STEM careers.
“I love seeing more girls get interested in science. It helps us get a broader understanding of our world, because we can use our experiences and perspectives in our research. Science is based on what we observe, and our observations are based on our experiences – so if we’re going to use science help solve problems like sanitation that affect everyone, we need to be represented by everyone.”