Cardiff-based science advocate awarded with MBE

Wendy Sadler, a Cardiff-based academic who launched a social enterprise to get youngsters interested in science, has been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

Having launched Science Made Simple in 2002, she’s spent the last fifteen years of her career inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers – and supporting young women in STEM.

The social enterprise, which currently employs 17 people, works with primary and secondary schools to develop interactive experiences to inspire future scientists, engineers and mathematicians.

It offers science communication and public engagement training using a range of innovative formats, ranging from science busking to non-verbal physical theatre performances.

Although based in the UK, it’s worked in more than 30 countries across the world – breathing life into STEM subjects for thousands of young people.

Wendy moved from Wombourne, near Wolverhampton, to Wales in 1991 to study physics and music at Cardiff University. She then began a career at Cardiff Bay science discovery centre Techniquest.

“Working at Techniquest was my first taste of demonstrating science to young people in a fun and engaging way. Seeing the reactions from both children and parents really brought it alive for me,” she said.

Speaking of the MBE, Wendy said: “When I got the letter I was speechless. It is a huge honour to be recognised for years of hard work; promoting the importance of science-based learning that is entertaining and engaging for young people.

“Without my passionate and dedicated team, I would never have been able to achieve anything close to this. I want to thank them and everyone who has supported science made simple over the last 15 years from the bottom of my heart.”

Upon the motivation behind setting up science made simple, Wendy said: “It was clear to me that the UK school curriculum only goes so far when it came to science, especially physics.

“Since our inception, we have aimed to bridge the gap between what is being taught in the classroom and what practical skills and knowledge are essential when pursuing a career in the physical sciences and engineering.

“Our social enterprise looks to enrich the scientific understanding of young people whilst supplementing the curriculum with entertaining methods of learning.”

Since moving to Wales 26 years ago, Wendy has maintained strong links with Cardiff University, and she benefited from its spin-out scheme when setting up her company.

Alongside her role as director at Science Made Simple, she’s also a part-time physics lecturer at Cardiff University and has created interactive courses around communicating physics.

Commenting on the support she’s received from the university, she said: “I am incredibly indebted to Cardiff University as well as the IOP (Institute of Physics) in Wales for all their support.”

Professor Karen Holford, deputy vice-chancellor of Cardiff University, said: “Since graduating from Cardiff University, Wendy has worked tirelessly to ensure that science and engineering  are made accessible to as many people as possible.

“Her passion and enthusiasm for science shines through in all of her work and has helped to inspire thousands of children and adults who have interacted with science made simple.

“Wendy is a flag-bearer for science and an inspirational role model for young women considering a career in the STEM subjects, so this honour is greatly deserved.”