Mirwat Shamshad - 2021 SPIE Women in Optics Planner
Physics Educator and Science Communicator
Educational Services Limited
Beaconhouse System, Pakistan
Born in Pakistan
My curiosity to know the unknown, since my childhood, has driven me to pursue my career in physics. I was always keen to unravel the answers to big questions and wanted to know how things work.
I teach physics to high school girls and serve as the science moderator for the Young Scientist Society under which various STEM-related activities are organized apart from school curriculum. Recently, before lockdown due to COVID-19, I conducted sessions for Active Learning Optics and Photonics (ALOP) for high school students.
I am actively involved in conducting outreach programs for under-privileged schools in my community to communicate science to a wider audience. I conducted an astronomy course followed by astro-imaging activities utilizing the robotic arm telescope at the Arizona Observatory. Another project in the pipeline is hunting for exoplanets using ‘ExoLab,’ a project of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. I am also working on how to incorporate quantum science at the highschool level in developing countries and the challenges that need to be addressed.
Unfortunately, when I was in high school I was taught physics in a very orthodox fashion, as only a bunch of equations and formulas. At times this nearly killed my interest to follow my passion or pursue a career in any STEM domain.
Now, my biggest challenge is to keep curiosity and interest alive among young brains, to rekindle their observational and imaginative skills, and to keep them passionate about STEM fields. This can only be done through innovative teaching strategies. I try to exalt the interplay between creativity, curiosity, and imaginations; to blur the boundaries between them by arranging various activities where students can create, communicate, and collaborate to work on a common problem. I also try to provide early exposure to various STEM fields, encompassing research and experimentation, and enabling the conducive environment where young females can find their true strengths and interests.
Never be afraid to try something new. Taking a new project is like taking your first parachute jump. Be fearless, be bold as “anything you have ever wanted lies on the other side of fear.”
No one is more and no one is less. Work hard, break the shell and come out, organize yourself, do things daily in smaller chunks that you find hard and want to be good at. It will soon become your habit and you will sail through them smoothly and swiftly.