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Open Book: Steve Mould
Open Book: Steve Mould, interview with author of How to Be a Scientist kids' science book
Science presenter and YouTube star Steve Mould

Steve Mould | Science presenter

We caught up with Steve Mould to chat molten explosions, gravitational waves and the transformative power of the internet. Steve is a science presenter for TV and stage, and a YouTube star creating spellbinding science videos. Steve is the author of our latest science book for kids, How to Be a Scientist.


Your work in five words:

Explaining things with cool experiments.

Your favourite place on Earth:

The cenotes in Yucatán, Mexico. Idyllic clear blue underground pools, draped in dappled sunlight… They were formed by the same impact that killed the dinosaurs!

If a film was made about your life, it would be called:

The Mould Effect: How an Accidental Discovery Changed the World.

Physics or chemistry?

Physics. I studied physics at university because I wanted to understand the fundamental questions of the universe (though I like chemistry too). Physics is like studying how building blocks work, while chemistry is like playing with building blocks, which is clearly more fun.

 

You’re practically science royalty on YouTube! What role do you think the internet plays in sparking young people's interest in science?

The internet is a great place for self-directed learning. There is so much knowledge at your fingertips and you can go at your own pace. With a platform like YouTube, I’m able to reach people who aren’t necessarily looking for science, which is fantastic.

Do you have an all-time favourite YouTube demonstration you’ve done?

My demonstration of gravitational waves is my favourite. It’s so hard to find a demonstration that’s never been done before, so when you come up with something and actually pull it off, that feels great!

 

What makes a good scientist?

A good scientist is someone who is inquisitive and can think critically. Everyone is born inquisitive, and everyone can be taught to think critically.

 

What’s the most unusual prop or material you’ve ever used in a demonstration?

Ferrofluid is so weird! It’s like iron filings but in liquid form. When you put a magnet close to it, it goes all spikey.

 

What’s the scariest predicament you’ve gotten yourself into while completing a science experiment?

As part of a demonstration about flares I was burning a pile of aluminum powder. I tried to put it out with water – bad idea! It exploded, and I was very lucky that none of the flying molten metal landed on me.

What’s the most exciting thing about the world of science right now?

CRISPR, or “Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats”. Scientists have discovered this remarkable molecular machinery inside certain bacteria that’s able to snip genetic code out of DNA. The best part is, you can program it to hunt out and snip any genetic sequence you like! This represents a huge leap in our ability to modify the genetics of life itself.

What advice and encouragement can you give to young scientists?

Don’t worry about getting the wrong answer. The important thing is to explore. Making mistakes is an important part of the journey.

Do you have a favourite spread from How to be a Scientist?

Stick explosion! It’s so fun to build and you can challenge yourself to build bigger and bigger explosions. The pay-off is always awesome.

 

Discover the skills it takes to become a scientist in DK's new science book for kids with science presenter and comedian Steve Mould. Being a scientist isn't just about wearing a lab coat and performing science experiments in test tubes. It's about looking at the world and trying to figure out how it works. As well as simple science projects for kids to try, How to Be a Scientist will teach them how to think like a scientist.

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