Author Lucy Hawking talks about her father and making science fun on Wolverhampton visit

Science, adventure and knowledge were at the heart of a visit to the region by the daughter of one of the great names in theoretical physics and cosmology.

Sophia McHugh and Sam Timms were among pupils getting the chance to meet author Lucy Hawking
Sophia McHugh and Sam Timms were among pupils getting the chance to meet author Lucy Hawking

Journalist, novelist, educator, and philanthropist Lucy Hawking was in Wolverhampton to speak to pupils at Wolverhampton Grammar School about her new book, Princess Olivia Investigates: The Wrong Weather, and answer questions.

Wolverhampton Grammar School welcomed more than 60 students from St Bartholomew’s Primary School, Pennfields Special School and Caldmore Primary Academy to join their Year 3, 4 and 5 children for an afternoon of science, storytelling and saving planet Earth

The 51-year-old, who is the daughter of professor Stephen Hawking, spent 35 minutes talking about Princess Olivia and her adventures with volcanoes, the ocean and space and enjoyed an interactive chat with the pupils, who she said asked some very intelligent questions.

She said: "One pupil asked me a question about whether aliens would ask me 'Do you think we've made as much of a mess of our planet as we have?', which I thought was a fantastic question.

Hattie Thomas and Riley Goss chat with Lucy about her book

"The talk was lovely and interactive today, with the talk being about storytelling and science to save the planet and have some fun along the way and that's what science is to me as it's the learning experience, but all the fun side and that's what I've tried to show them today."

Ms Hawking was in Wolverhampton as part of the first group of events she had been able to do to promote the Princess Olivia series, allowing her to talk to students as a live experience, instead of online.

She spoke about Princess Olivia and said the idea was to create a character of a girl who was a princess, but wanted to be a scientist.

Lucy Hawking said she wanted to make science fun and accessible in the way her father did

She said: "She wants to unlock the mysteries of the natural world to understand more using science to understand the world around her, so I hope it's a quirky, unexpected story that I hope will engage young readers with climate change issues.

"I also hope it will talk about who a scientist is, who has the right to be a scientist, what science is and what scientists look like and that's what we've been talking about, as well as using storytelling to describe science.

"It means that science can be fun and silly and adventurous and exciting and help to get children interesting and it's something that has had a big influence on my work because I have set out to tell unexpected and engaging stories that explains science to to audiences who may not think science is for them."

Ms Hawking said that while she was not a scientist, she owed a lot to science because of the work of her father and his contemporaries, saying that she had written a book series with him previously to take some of his wonder and excitement of discovery.

She said: "I have been very influenced by my father and the book series allowed me to take some of the wonder and excitement and thrill of discovery that he and his colleagues felt about science and translate it into work that young readers could understand.

"There has been such a drop off in engagement with science and education as children didn't find it exciting and couldn't see themselves reflected in the profile of scientists, so my aim became to make it fun and engaging and super accessible.

"My father was a great example of a scientist who went out to explain his work to everyone and found it important to use popular entertainment, such as appearing on the Simpsons and Futurama, and showed that a scientist is approachable, accessible, fun and someone you can have a conversation with."

Ms Hawking also said the biopic of her father, The Theory of Everything, was a beautiful and emotionally authentic piece about her father and mother Jane, saying that Eddie Redmayne deserved the Oscar for his depiction of her father.

She said that works such as the film and the works of her father would help his legacy live on for a long time.

She said: "I think he was a great figure that we will not see again and I feel like I am carrying on the family business, which is explaining complex science to people in ways they didn't expect."

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