I recently got an incredible opportunity to do some public science engagement. My friends’ daughter, who absolutely loves sharks, was turning 5 and having friends over for a shark (and pirate, and octonauts) themed birthday party. And she wanted to know if I would be willing to attend and answer the kids’ questions about sharks.
I don’t think I’ve ever said “yes” to something so fast in my whole life!
I’ve always enjoyed speaking to school groups, though I used to focus on older kids, because the type of talks I like to give require having at least a little big of science background. During the early days of the pandemic, I started zooming around the country meeting with kids of all ages, and I’m never going back! Kids ask the best questions, I don’t think an adult has ever asked me what my third favorite kind of whale is.
When I showed up and started chatting with the parents, they realized who I was- my friends had advertised that a shark scientist was going to be there to answer kids’ questions about sharks on the invitation- and I got a mix of reactions. Most thought this was a hilarious idea. A few said something to the effect of “only in Washington, DC,” a town known for having super specialized expert nerds in a variety of subjects. But more than a few were sure that it wasn’t going to work, that kids wouldn’t pay attention to a science lecture at a birthday party.
It worked, y’all.
The kids not only paid attention (for almost 15 minutes, which I’m assured is remarkable for kids of that age,) but asked great questions and had a blast! Once I started talking about how sharks have pee in their blood and don’t really know their mommies, they were hooked. Know your audience, my friends.
After some good wholesome science-y fun, we stopped and had cake and sang happy birthday
Happy Birthday, Remy!