ice cream and green wellies
Why, I ask myself, did I spend most of a valuable Sunday afternoon up to the ankles in mud, with frozen hands and salt stinging a dozen little cuts, encouraging families to have a go at hand-making tiny pots of ice-cream?
Well, (a) I volunteered for it. The occasion was the Three Counties Show, arguably the second most nationally important agricultural show of the year, so the Science Discovery Zone there is something I always try and support. Of course, you will remember we had had three months of almost continuous rain by mid-June, so the location we were given by the organizers - at the foot of the slope, near the fishpond - was basically a swamp. Never mind; take the rough with the smooth ... anyway, you can get heat exhaustion under a tent in the sun.
(b) I believe in it. Being a STEM ambassador is nearly all about encouraging the next generation to seriously consider a career in technology, science or engineering; and it starts with showing them something simple, everyday, amazing and intriguing - opening their minds up, whetting their appetite. Making ice-cream the old-fashioned way, plunging a sealed pot of flavoured milk into Herr Fahrenheit's 'freezing mixture' of salt and ice, is just such a demonstration, AND they get to eat it afterwards. It's one small step on the road for the next Alan Sugar, Tara Shears or Steve Jobs ... and UK plc needs them!
(c) It's fun. It's one of the most fun aspects of my job; not showing off my knowledge, not doing my good deed for the day, not even the camaraderie of three or four of us in a cold tent with running water at our feet and blue fingers, laughing it off instead of just moaning; but the challenge of explaining why it works in really simple terms; the delight of seeing the smile of discovery on one face, and another, and another ...
So I'm going back next June. I don't care if it snows and we still do the ice-cream again.