To celebrate International Day of Women and Girls in Science, let’s shine the spotlight on Lucy Mottram. Lucy is a Waste Educator, she’s passionate about teaching where our rubbish goes and how we can reduce it. She’s got a degree in Biology, is a qualified biology teacher, a STEM Ambassador, and she used to study plants as an Ecologist.

You can read more about Lucy’s cool work here: Proud to be a STEM Ambassador! – Zone (

Lucy leads tours at Energy from Waste plants, recycling centres, and schools. During these tours, she runs science workshops. These workshops are experiments that help us understand how recycling is sorted. You can read up about Energy from Waste here:  Energy from Waste – Zone (

Before the experiments, Lucy teaches about words like “opaque” (can’t see through), “translucent” (kind of see through), “transparent” (totally see through), “rigid” (hard), “flexible” (bendy), “absorbent” (soaks up water), “magnetism” (sticks to magnets), “insulation” (keeps things warm or cold or blocks electricity), and “conduction” (lets heat or electricity go through).

There are six experiments in these workshops with different materials like plastic, steel, aluminium, wood, and cotton. These materials are tested to see how they react:

  1. The transparency test: A flashlight is used to test if we can see through the material.
  2. The wetness test: Water droplets are placed on the material to see if it soaks it up.
  3. The conductivity test: To check if electricity can pass through the material (don’t worry, it’s safe!).
  4. The hardness test: To see if the material gets scratched easily.
  5. The magnetism test: To find out if the material sticks to magnets.
  6. The flexibility test: To see if the material can bend without breaking.

After these tests, Lucy is helped by another amazing lady, Sally. Sally is our awesome guide. She takes children around recycling centres and asks questions about what they learnt with props in her magic bag. A bag that seems to be bigger on the inside, much like a Tardis.

Lucy’s teaching makes learning about waste and sustainability fun and interesting. She also makes resources to help our teachers. You can check out some of the worksheets she’s made here, so you can inspire yourself with science on the International Day of Women and Girls in Science: Properties of Materials Worksheets – Zone (

Lucy is pictured here

A photo of children in lab coats taking water from a cup using a pipette. This is with a recording sheet. You can't see the children's faces as its focused on their hands.

The wetness test

Picture of a circuit board used in experiments to measure conductivity of different materials in the Science of Materials workshop.

The conductivity test