Personally speaking - Best advice? 'Beware windy days'

18th June 2010 at 01:00

Who has been your biggest influence?

Dorothy Hodgkin, the only British woman to win a Nobel Prize for science. She undertook groundbreaking research at the same time as having a family. Managing this kind of work-life balance can be difficult for female scientists today; it must have been incredibly hard over half a century ago.

What has been your career high so far?

Joining the Royal Society. The extraordinary intellect of the Royal Society's fellows and their enthusiasm for making a difference in education and inspiring young people make my job a real joy. The 350th anniversary has already raised the profile of the Royal Society tremendously.

Which pupil are you most proud of?

The moments when my pupils have understood a concept and lit up, they are the moments that have given me an immense sense of satisfaction and pride.

What is the best advice you have been given?

"Be aware of the effects of windy days."

What would you be if you hadn't become a teacher?

I moved into teaching after several years in industry. This has given me a great variety of experience to call upon, both in teaching and since then in more policy-focused roles.

What do you do on a Friday evening?

I relax with my husband and son and try to make time to indulge in my enthusiasm for zoology in the form of amigurumi (making crochet animals and dolls).

Where did you last go on holiday - and why?

I regularly travel to the north-west Highlands of Scotland for the peace, quiet and time to walk and climb.

What was the last book you read?

Seeing Further: The Story of Science and the Royal Society. Bill Bryson's introduction made the history of science and the society entertaining in a way that I never thought possible.

What is the worst excuse from a pupil you have ever heard?

A pupil once told me he could not finish his homework as he had broken his arm, and proceeded to flourish his plastercast. I later realised it was the wrong arm.

- Royal Society partnership grant schools will be exhibiting at the summer science exhibition, a ten-day festival that will run at the Southbank Centre in London from next Friday until July 4

Libby Steele taught science in Hertfordshire and is now head of education at the Royal Society, which celebrates its 350th anniversary this year.

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