On the 5th of October, the students of Wimbledon High School were fortunate enough to attend a lecture by the inimitable Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock MBE. Entitled The Marvels of Our Universe, the lecture was the highlight of the school’s World Space Week celebration.
Dr Aderin-Pocock’s career as a space scientist and science educator is extensive and extraordinary. Honorary research associate at UCL’s Department of Physics, she is known by many as the famous face of BBC’s Sky at Night, and is an inspiring public speaker. Needless to say, the students were excited when told she would be coming to the school, student Alexandra Smith said, “I am really looking forwards to her lecture as I would like to be an aeronautical engineer when I’m older. Dr Aderin-Pocock is such an inspiration”.
Dr Aderin-Pocock’s lecture tackled many facets of space and STEM, blending her astounding personal career with facts and captivating insight. Referencing the gender discrepancies in the field, she recounted the significant history and contribution of women in STEM, persuasively disproving the narrative that you need to be a white male “engineer-type” to thrive. A black, dyslexic woman, herself, she certainly does not fit this type! In an all-girl school, this was incredibly empowering for many STEM enthusiasts.
A resounding message from the lecture was the idea that STEM is wonder. Quite literally the study of everything, Aderin-Pocock talked about the awe-inspiring nature of space and invention as well as the wonder she felt partaking in such immense projects. Her career has led to her talking with world leaders, advising TV shows about space and spacecraft settings, being on TV, writing books, and, to the delight of the audience, having a chat with the Queen!
To conclude the lecture, Aderin-Pocock tackled difficult questions from the students on a range of topics from SpaceX to what one should pack for a voyage to the moon. Earning rapturous applause from the audience, she then commenced book signing.
Wimbledon High School student, Elspie Macpherson, described the event as “a truly remarkable and inspiring presentation from a truly remarkable and inspiring woman”. Dr Aderin-Pocock deserved such praise, relaying her experiences with humour and thought-provoking insight, whilst giving an encouraging look at the future of STEM- potentially the future of many students who sat in that hall.