I’m Veronika Covington and I am your #STEMPRO

This week on the #YOURPRO series, we speak to Veronika, co-founder of Little House of Science, a company that organizes Children’s Science Education including Holiday Camps and weekend STEM clubs, After-school Club, Workshops and Outreach (live and video) and Publications.

Veronika - Little House of Science

Current job: Co-founder Little House of Science 

One word that best describes how you work: passionately

My role model: Ruth Bader Ginsburg

My greatest success: having my two kids

My favourite school’s subject: I loved all; English was one but , Biology was probably my all time favourite in high school.

My biggest fear: at the moment is what climate change will have in store for us and the future generations.

My life dream: I am very happy with my life and how it has turned out so far. I have two beautiful children both of whom I am extremely proud of and a wonderful husband. Also, I dream of a future which will be environmentally stable and where our planet will be able to recover again.

 My favourite food is – I am pretty much plant based in my diet but I do love goulash and wiener schnitzel

First of all, explain to our reader what STEM stands for and when your love for scientific subjects started, giving later the idea to found Little House of Science 

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics. When I was at university I took several science subjects but I ended up graduating with a business degree. My husband is a physicist and mathematician by education- and we ended up becoming very involved in supporting the UK science community many years ago (he was Chair of the UK’s mathematical research institute in Cambridge, The Newton Institute, Trustee of Science Museum, Chair of The Alan Turing Institute) and I realised although there is so much for adults to be involved, there was nothing for children outside of the school curriculum to learn more about science. Along with my wonderful business partners Liliana – and Elisabeth we decided to set up Little House of Science to fill this gap. We now teach thousands of children each year. I am working on our start in publishing, where we are launching our first book “This Book is full of Brains”- coming out in October, which you can pre-order at Waterstones. 

What is exactly Little House of Science  and in what is different from others way to learn science? 

Little House of Science is a science education company which specialises in after school clubs, holiday camps, science weeks, outreach programmes for children aged 3 to 12 years (live and now also live video classes since COVID). We teach over 4000 kids a year with a very hands on approach demonstrating that science is everywhere around us. We teach in a project based way and every week children will have a new topic selected from for example biology, chemistry, physics, engineering. We integrate maths wherever its applicable and also offer workshops on Artificial Intelligence and Computing.
With Little House of Science  we are able to give back and nurture childrens knowledge in understanding the world around them. We hope to equip those we teach and the next generation with a wider and deeper scientific understanding and appreciation.

How is it challenging to engage with students so young?

Kids are amazingly bright. They are by nature extremely curious and they are natural scientists – they ask so many questions about how the world works and they try to figure out the answers and solutions to problems. It is very engaging to teach young children. We teach each of our workshops, camps and programmes based on our pupils age groups. Our nursery students may have different demonstrations and take homes then when we are teaching year 6 for example. Our teachers at House of Science are fantastic at working with different age groups.

When I took my Master in Electronic Enginnering we were only 7% female students, do you believe that lately there is a change in thinking that girls are less ‘gifted’ for STEM subjects? 

My personal opinion is that girls generally have always been just as gifted or good in science as anyone else. It is just that there seems to have been a stigma and stereotyping attached to it which has made some girls feel like they should be studying something else or that they are not as good. This takes some time to change along with re-education and spreading the message that girls are great in STEM subjects!

Before people were so concerned about climate change and pollution, you had already supported and worked with Client-Earth, how did it all begin? 

My husband and I have been supporting and working with Client Earth, a leading environmental law firm and charity with 200 lawyers and offices in London, Berlin, Poland and China using the power of the law to protect life on Earth, for over 8 years. We also set up the Development Board back then to help grow Client Earth and get the word out. I am on the Development Board and my husband Howard is Chairman of Client Earth .  When we started to become involved, climate change was not a topic so many people thought about as the world felt much more stable. It felt very distant to many. However, the scientific research behind the changes – ie increase in CO2 emissions, loss of biodiversity, chemical and air pollution, the warming up and acidification of the oceans was already there. Scientists were trying to make themselves heard. It was already very clear that countries, companies, individuals needed to make changes urgently to how we live and operate on this planet. 

There is a project of Client Earth that you are particularly proud of?

Client Earth covers many areas including protecting forests, transitioning to clean energy, eliminating fossil fuels and use of plastics to name a few. Air pollution is also a very big area. 90% of children globally breathe toxic air- leading to smaller lungs, asthma, increased mental health problems to name a few. Millions of people die globally as a result. Client Earth has sued the UK government successfully in ground breaking court cases here in the UK, pushing for ambitious action. It is also doing this across Europe. The lawyers work extremely hard to make our cities and planet a better, cleaner place.

You follow so many projects, how do you find the right work/free time balance in your day?

Its always tricky balancing family and work and limited time. I do most of my work when my kids are at school and my business partners, Elisabeth and Liliana, are also wonderful to work with. I am very lucky as we all work very closely together and one of my roles is collaborating with schools in London and their club and education programmes. Due the pandemic, we now teach live video classes and clubs across the globe without commuting saving precious time with our family. 

Last but not least, as #Stempro, what are the Little House of Science courses you suggested every child should do to make them passionate about Science?

Children love so many of our classes- some of the topics include – Chemical Reactions, Fascinating Frogs and Amphibians, Forces and Flight, Cell life and DNA, What is Biomimicry?, Galileo’s Big Ideas, Our beautiful Oceans, Engineering and Architecture, the list is long.

Now please fill the gap about your 5 pro tips: 

  1. Best subjects of Science for beginners- Children can start our clubs or camps at any time-they are independent sessions each time. But some great topics to learn about and some of my favourite are Miraculous Microorganisms, Amazing Chemicals, Optical Illusion, Who was Archimedes, Beautiful Bees to name a few!
  2. Best place for summer holiday- There are so many beautiful places to go to! We love being on our farm in Sussex and for the summer holidays we spend as much time as we can in Austria to be in the mountains and lake district- which we love as a family.
  3. A sport to keep you fit. I love yoga and try to get better at it all the time- and I love running.
  4. A game for your brain- trying to learn bridge!
  5. A book to read One of my favourite books Wilding by Isabella Tree  

You can follow Little House of Science on Instagram

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