To be fair, no-one ever told me I couldn’t make solar panel artworks.
There were plenty who were skeptical, but, the majority of my experience to date has been of exceptional, unexpected, generous and enthusiastic support from people who want us to succeed in our venture.
But you know, I’ve been in a few technology and engineering colleges….and there aren’t very many women there.
It made me think…..Women are invited….in fact, we are encouraged and needed, to participate in every aspect of humanity’s response to the climate emergency and studies show that diversity in the work environment can increase innovation.
When I look back, I wonder – Why didn’t I go into STEM (Science Technology Engineering & Maths ) straight away?
I remember 100% test results in my electronics class; all those satisfying maths problems; beautiful graphs and diagrams; playable data; intriguing science experiments; mind-blowing discussions about the nature of the universe…. I really loved STEM stuff. So why did I decide to do something else?
Maybe because I was also good at other stuff that I got more praise for: Like singing, dancing, acting, drawing.
Maybe it was something to do with freedom: I remember thinking at 16 – If I study art, I can explore science in my work, but if I study science, it will be harder to explore art.
When we first made a solar panel artwork at the kitchen table, I realised that playing with energy is MUCH more fun and creative than I had realised before… and also MUCH easier.
That’s not to say that it is without any risks…you have to be careful with the kit!….and nothing ALWAYS works…but, that’s part of the fun. Working with solar cells requires careful attention, and if you give it that, then you can make your own electricity and use it to power something in your life.
Over the weekend, we ran a solar charger making workshop with a brilliant group of girls between the ages of 9 and 11 and their grown-ups.
Thank you to Exeter Community Energy for supplying the kit to run the workshop!
What was so noticeable for me was how skillful, focused and thoughtful this young group were.
It was really heartening to see parents supporting their girls to experience things they wouldn’t necessarily get to do at school: Soldering, using sharp tools, and power tools.
Each of them came away having learned a bit more about solar power, they achieved something tricky, found solutions to problems, and developed skills for resilience.
Their solar panel chargers will be something that they can use, share and tell a good story about.
I hope we’ve helped these young women to see themselves getting creative with STEM for the future.