Q&A with Nano Girl, Dr Michelle Dickinson
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO WRITE THE KITCHEN SCIENCE COOKBOOK?
There aren’t a lot of women in science and I wondered why. I do a lot of outreach and at events have had parents say ‘I wish I could teach my kids about science but I was terrible at school.’ I wondered how I could build their confidence. At a lot of events, cakes were baked and you know, baking is science. Baking has a method, a result. It’s an experiment. Science as a language can be intimidating but there are words that mean the same thing. I thought a cookbook would be less alien and intimidating. Every recipe became an experiment.
WHAT’S YOUR BACKGROUND?
I’m a nanotechnologist but an engineer by training.
WERE YOU INTERESTED IN SCIENCE AS A CHILD?
We learnt the subject at school but I became interested at home. My dad was in electrical engineering and he would have soldering irons and circuits on the dining table. At school, science didn’t stand out, but doing stuff with Dad and having quality time with family sparked my interest.
YOU’RE BREAKING STEREOTYPES. ANYONE CAN BE A SCIENTIST
People say they want to buy my book for their kids, but it’s also a book for adults. My goal is to get adults to be confident with science. It’s about breaking moulds, building confidence and helping people to learn.
WHAT’S BEEN THE REACTION?
Kids love the edible recipes, like the earthworms. There’s an anticipation of waiting for them to set and seeing the end result. A lot of kids have said that although they didn’t enjoy science at school, they have enjoyed learning at home.
HOW DID YOU CHOOSE THE RECIPES?
I had 350 recipe ideas to begin with. To narrow it down, I asked friends on social media for suggestions. I spoke to scientists, I wanted parents’ opinions. If they didn’t have an ingredient in their pantry, I wouldn’t include it. The cost of ingredients doesn’t exceed $1.
Edible worms. They’re disgusting, slimy and really fun to make! I also love marshmallow catapops – who doesn’t love throwing food around? It’s about construction and it’s a great way to show confidence and engineering – and eating it at the end!
The Kitchen Science Cookbook By Dr Michelle Dickinson Nano Girl Labs, RRP $50