Meet the Team- Charlotte Brown
In this Meet the Team, we’ll introduce you to Charlotte Brown. She’s one of our fantastic Activity Officers and a student at the University of Sheffield.
Sheffield’s uni students get the opportunity to inspire local children to get excited by science with STEAMWORKS. One of them is Charlotte Brown, a Medical Genetics student who’s putting her technical know-how and past experience to good use as a club leader.
What does a club leader do?
Leading a FabLab can feel like being thrown in at the deep end. But we provide all the support, training and equipment needed to make each and every workshop successful- even with first time leaders. We asked Charlotte to take us through a typical workshop.
“Helen [our managing director at STEAMWORKS] sends a prepared list of the week’s experiments and activities, and bags with all the equipment in. You go to the school and set it up 20 minutes before.
“When the kids come in, I do the register and explain what they’ll be doing- then I do a demonstration for them at the front of the class. You set them off on whatever they’re doing whilst helping them along the way.”
“I like to teach them about the science of what they’re doing, if it’s the lava lamps, slime, robotics or any other activity. At the end we send them back to the parents and clean up afterwards.”
What experience do you have?
Before university, Charlotte already had volunteering experience at her local scout’s club through her D of E award. She also help out at her old dance school before starting her degree.
Now Charlotte’s starting her third year of Medical Genetics at Sheffield, which spans the expression of genes, inheritance and mutations- even how to modify genetic code.
Instead of avoiding these complex subjects in her workshops, Charlotte has actively used her background to get the kids more excited about science.
She said: “Although the activities are fun and artistic, I try to get a little bit of science in there too.
“A lot of the first year of my course was quite chemistry based which helps me explain a lot of what is going on in the activities. I explain the differences between a solid and a liquid, or describe the polymers and the bonds that are formed in the slime we’re making
“I’ve learnt about it in a lot more detail than I explain to the kids, obviously, but it’s nice to relate stuff that I already know.”
Charlotte found out about us from another student who’s also an Activity Officer at STEAMWORKS. She said volunteering as a club leader has boosted her leadership talents.
She said: “At STEAMWORKS I’ve learnt how to manage and control a classroom of kids, because before I’ve always been in the background.
“When you’re the leader, it’s your job to make sure all the students are listening to you and that you’ve got their attention. I do feel like being a leader has been a big jump up from anything I’d done before, but I do really enjoy it.”
Finally, we asked Charlotte what she’d say to any potential new club leaders.
“Just go for it,” she said, “it can be quite nerve-wracking at first, especially if you’ve never worked with children before or don’t have any younger brothers or sisters, but I feel like it’s such as great experience. The more you do it the more confident you are.”
“Just seeing the kids faces when they’re enjoying things when an experiments worked. Watching them laugh if something goes wrong, it’s so nice to see.”
Charlottes ambitions after uni and STEAMWORKS include either being a genetics counsellor or a teacher.
Genetics counsellors help families and patients by carrying out tests to read their genomes- their personal DNA code. They help them find out if there’s any clues in their genetics that suggest they’re more susceptible to certain diseases.
Like Charlotte, many ex-STEAMWORKS club leader have a passion for STEM, teaching or both and have gone on to brilliant careers where they can help others and get more young people to care about STEM.