Maddie Moate is a YouTube filmmaker and BAFTA winning presenter, passionate about curiosity. She is the host of the BAFTA nominated CBeebies series “Do You Know?” BBC Earth’s “Earth Unplugged” and CNBC’s technology series “The Cloud Challenge”. One of the only family focused “Edu-tubers” in the UK, Maddie has been creating educational online science content for the past seven years and has amassed over 25 million views on her YouTube films across multiple science and technology channels.
Interview by Nadia Duncan
Q) How would you describe yourself in only five words?
Curious, creative, adventurous, empathetic and busy!
Q) We’re looking forward to welcoming you back to the NI Science Festival this month, what do you enjoy the most about educating younger children?
There are so many things I enjoy about what I do, but mostly the response that I get from children. Pre-schoolers and very young children are naturally curious anyway and it doesn’t take much to get them excited about the world around them. I feel really privileged that I’m in a position to talk about science and to the TV audience that I have. What I also love about children is that when you frame something in the right way, everything is an adventure and you can find the wonder in so many things. I’m a science communicator, and for me it’s more about finding out how the world works, asking why, and going in search of answers. I love taking children on a journey with me to go and learn something new in the most fun way possible.
Q) Can you give us a sneak exclusive on what your show is about this year?
I find with my younger audiences that the best way to get information across is to involve them so I can definitely say that the show will involve audience participation and we will going off on an adventure together – with a nod to conservation.
Q) Science is still very under-represented by women, what attracted you to science and what can we do to encourage more women into STEM careers?
This is something that I’m super passionate about. When I was in school drama was the subject I was sure that I would continue with as a career. When it came to choosing subjects for University, theatre and media were obvious as they were subjects I had invested time in and always enjoyed. I’m probably generalising, but I believe that girls like to have an idea of where they are going and be able to imagine, or at least see, what the future may look like – we’re practical like that. When I look back now, I do wonder why I never even thought about a career in science, because I loved science in school, but I had absolutely no idea of what a career in science could be – my vision was so stereotypical of someone with crazy hair, in a white coat, working in a lab.
When I got older I realised that I missed it, and now I’m so lucky that I’m able to combine my love of drama with popular science, but I think perhaps when I was young that I always saw science as a lesson, a subject you only learnt in school. That’s why initiatives like the NI Science Festival and coding clubs which have sprung up everywhere are fantastic. It’s also really important to introduce real role models who young girls can aspire to, so they can imagine themselves growing up and doing something similar. STEM careers need to be more visible, e.g. I would say to a media photography student, “That’s great that you like photography, but have you ever considered that you could do extreme close-up SEM microscopic photographs of bacteria that could make you world-famous?”
“If I’m being really honest the woman in science I admired most when I was young was a fictional character from the Jurassic Park books and movies, Dr. Ellie Sattler. I absolutely adored her and thought she was a real badass!”
Q) Which famous scientist(s) do you admire the most and why?
I don’t remember learning about many women in science growing up, but now thanks to a plethora of great books about them we’re becoming aware of so many. I will always admire Mary Anning the legendary fossil hunter and palaeontologist. Also Amelia Earhart, the American aviation pioneer. Maybe not a scientist as such but what she did took so much courage for her time. If I’m being really honest the woman in science I admired most when I was young was a fictional character from the Jurassic Park books and movies, Dr. Ellie Sattler. I absolutely adored her and thought she was a real badass!”
Q) If you could make one immediate change to the world right now using science – what would it be?
I would probably design a plane that could fly very long distances on renewable, or only solar, energy. One of the things that I love is to travel, I think that the opportunity to travel the world should be available to everyone as it’s so important to see how other cultures live, and have the chance to visit far-flung corners of the world, as ultimately that is going to be what generates respect amongst all of us for how we are treating our planet. However, I do recognise the conflict as long-haul flights are certainly not environmentally friendly, in fact it’s one of the most carbon-intensive things you can do. If I could somehow do that I believe it would bring us all closer together. There are some things we just can’t do without the help of scientists.
See Maddie Moate Live on Sat 15 & Sun 16 at The Mac, Belfast, or on Mon 17 February at Alley Theatre, Strabane. Suitable for ages 4+. To book and to see the full NI Science Festival Programme visit nisciencefestival.com