Lee Constable, host of Channel 10’s kids’ science program Scope and author of How to Save the Whole Stinkin’ Planet, talks to Kidzone about using science to help the Earth.
What inspired you to write a book like How to Save the Whole Stinkin’ Planet? When I was a kid I loved Captain Planet which was a cartoon with a superhero all about doing what’s right for the environment. I still love superheros so that is what inspired me to create Captain Garbology. I was also inspired by all the young people who have been standing up for the planet and their future and wanted to do something to help young people in the huge fight against climate change. I was really inspired to make this an adventure with a good sense of humour that allows readers to be the heroes.
All this talk about climate change and a sick planet can become scary. What do you say to kids who are becoming afraid for the future? The exciting thing that always cheers me up is knowing that there are so many things we can do and there are so many people who are also working really hard to give us the future planet we want to see! My advice to kids if you are feeling sad or scared about the future is to think about the little things that you can do and try not to get overwhelmed by the things that you can’t.
In what ways will science be able to help save the Earth? Science is all about coming up with solutions to problems, so science can help with everything from renewable energy to sustainable food to conservation! It’s up to us to make sure these awesome solutions are used!
In what ways has science been responsible for polluting the Earth? Science and engineering have helped to create a lot of the things we use today that also create pollution, like cars that burn fuel, and plastic packaging. Even science laboratories create a lot of waste!
Where do you see the fields of science heading in the future? What will be the priority? One priority is to make sure everyone on Earth has clean drinkable water and food. There are so many big challenges when you think about how many people there are on Earth and how climate change affects farming. Another priority is not just about stopping climate change but figuring out how ecosystems and humans can adapt to the effects of climate change that we are already seeing.
What would you love to see invented? I would love to see an invention that makes it possible for us to bring all the space junk back to Earth so we can reuse and recycle it! There are scientists and engineers already working on this but it is a huge problem to solve!
You studied science at university – what are some of the cool things science students get to do? I got to spend a lot of time in the lab and in the field at uni. I got to dissect cane toads and even a snail. I went to WA to study mangroves near Exmouth. I went whale watching and collected plankton. I studied plant DNA in a lab. I got to use amazing electron microscopes! Doing a mixture of lab and field work helped me figure out what I liked the most.
Your studies took you all the way to Antarctica – what did you learn from your trip? I went to Antarctica as part of Homeward Bound which is a leadership program for women in STEMM (science, tech, engineering, math, and medicine) from all over the world. I got to learn about what all the scientists on board do. I got to meet scientists and others who live and work in research stations in Antarctica and I got to do a lot of training to develop my leadership skills in a way that will hopefully bring about some positive changes for the planet!
What is the most important quality of a scientist? The most important quality of a scientist is to be kind to others and be okay with being wrong! You have to be able to be kind to others in any role because working with people is the best way to succeed. As for being wrong, often we feel like scientists should know everything, but all scientists ask questions about things they don’t know and search for answers. Sometimes your own experiment might prove you wrong! In science, it doesn’t matter if you were wrong or right, the important thing is that you learned something!
Most scientific discoveries start with these two words: “I wonder … ”. We notice something, our curiosity grows and – the next thing you know – we’re investigating, testing and researching to try to discover why.
Sometimes in life we find the answers we’re searching for. Other times, we have to be okay with not knowing the reasons why things are the way they are.
But as Lee points out, when you’re curious about the world around you, you’ll always learn something along the way. I wonder what you’ll discover about God’s wonderful world.
“Great are the works of the Lord. They are studied by all who delight in them” Psalm 111, verse 2.