I would like to write that I had a natural inclination for exploring the natural world – that I spent my childhood scouring beaches for fossils and building my own particle accelerator in the garage while my parents looked on, bemused but proud. But the truth is, I don’t remember doing any science until I got to secondary school. And even then, I found it boring, irrelevant and frustrating.
At the age of 14, I thought I might grow up to be a lawyer or a journalist. Luckily for me, everything changed with my GCSEs. I had two new teachers, Mr Clark and Mr York, who changed my attitude completely. Both were gifted teachers, whose enthusiasm for their subjects was relentless and infectious. They taught me that science was not just a collection of facts and figures, but a way of thinking. They didn’t present me with ‘truths’ about the world, but told me that they were teaching me about a working model.
Most importantly, they taught me that science was an ongoing human endeavour – one that I could perhaps contribute to one day. My journey into geekdom began in their classrooms, which led me to do a physics degree, become a physics teacher, and become a professional science communicator.
See Alom Shaha‘s film Patterns in Nature, featuring Marcus du Sautoy