Sophie talks about her apprenticeship route into a science career, and suggests simple kitchen chemistry projects to fire up your imagination.
At school, I was excited when it was time for science lessons. Maths was a different story – I worried I wasn’t good enough. I decided to study really hard and came out with a good Maths GCSE. It was a big confidence boost. Enjoying the mathematics used in science helped me grasp the rest.
I am charting my own path into the science career I want to be in. When I was 17 years old, I decided to start a laboratory technician apprenticeship instead of taking A-levels. I wasn’t the best at exams and learn better by doing hands-on things. The apprenticeship gave me three years of experience, learning practical skills and finding out what it’s like to work in a research laboratory.
Science is exciting because it’s all about discovery. My parents have been very supportive about my ambition to pursue a science career. My mum used to be a bone marrow scientist, and she started off as an apprentice like I did!
Now I’m combining further study with a technician role at the Viral Vector Core Facility. This is a lab that supports scientists who are creating new vaccines for many different diseases. I help set up experiments involving microscopic viruses and cells. Part of my job is making sure experiments are carried out without mistakes, so scientists can trust the results.
I’m a friendly and sociable person so I enjoy the teamwork in a lab. It’s crucial to share research and information with other scientists all around the world. My apprenticeship also gave me the opportunity to work in public engagement and improve my public speaking skills.
I’m excited to find out where my career will lead me. I am finishing up a life sciences foundation course, and will soon begin a medical biochemistry degree! Hopefully this will lead me into a research role, working out how to turn our growing knowledge of the human body into new medicines and treatments.
Work hard towards your goals. At times it may seem difficult and make you want to give up, but pick yourself back up and carry on! It will all be worth it one day.
I like watching movies with my cat, Ginkgo! I also enjoy spending time with my friends. I’m learning how to knit – the furthest I’ve got so far is making a small scarf!
Time: 20 minutes
You need: Red cabbage, egg, lemon, absorbent white paper, paintbrush, washable black felt-tip, black permanent marker
- Ask an adult helper to chop some red cabbage into chunks and pour hot water over it, as if they were making cabbage tea!
- When the cabbage tea has cooled down, use it to paint a sheet of white paper purple.
- Put a little egg white and lemon juice in separate cups. Use them to paint on top of your purple paper, and watch what happens!
- Cut a small square of absorbent white paper (blotting paper and watercolour paper work well).
- Use the permanent marker to doodle a cartoon person or animal. Use the washable black pen to add a simple hairstyle.
- Rest the very bottom of the paper in a shallow bowl of water. Watch as the water soaks up through the paper.
Ask children to paint over the cabbage juice with different fruit juices and foods (always check they are safe to use).
What other chromatography cartoons can your family create? Do all washable black pens produce the same colours?