Like other STEM fields, astronomy suffers from under-representation of women and minorities and lack of role models to inspire the next generation of astronomers, including Lebanon.
The project core is a platform called Scheherazade Speaks Science www.shespeaksscience.com, that uses storytelling to make science accessible and promotes women in STEM. Scheherazade, the storyteller of 1001 Nights who achieves social progress and justice with her captivating tales, is the vessel through which the science is narrated. The 1-year old platform now has 12k+ visits from 78 countries across 6 continents. To inspire and connect, we tell stories infused with social relevance such as reflecting on planet diversity like our own, or planet migration being like human immigration, part of the natural order of the Universe. This is based on research using functional MRI to study mind activity and how it’s activated with stories.
Through social media and my professional network, I also invite women in STEM to contribute so they increase their visibility and become role models.
The project mantle is public talks to reach my audience in Lebanon and the UK. Talks are centred around pop-out DIY figures (ex astronaut or Mars Rover) and students will co-create stories around that. This gives students agency triggers their creativity and imagination.
The platform stories are also powerful for a continued engagement as an accessible backup resource after talks. Talks at schools once or twice a year are not enough to keep students engaged. Access to the platform and following it on social media is more effective to engage them and enhance their attitudes toward STEM. Last year I gave ~15 public talks reaching ~2000 people of all ages.