Hello, everyone! Welcome to another exciting episode where we explore the fascinating world of creativity and inspiration. Today, we’re delighted to introduce you to Celia Berrell, a Science Rhymes poet who’s not afraid to say YES to new challenges. Join us as Celia shares her poetry tips and encourages you to share your own short rhyming poem about science. Get ready to dive into the power of saying YES and the amazing opportunities it can unlock. Let’s begin!

Note from the Creator

When asked to do something, my successful friends say YES straight away.  Without a push, poke or prod, I usually say NO … at least at first.  Are you one of those high-achievers that always say YES, or are you like me?  

I’m Science Rhymes poet Celia Berrell and I said YES (to sharing my poetry tips with you on All Ages of Geek) because I’m hoping that, in return, YOU will share your own short rhyming poem about science with ME. 

When I received Ryder Sterling’s email from All Ages of Geek, it PUSHED, POKED and PRODDED me into action.  I’m now busy preparing two collections of my poems for publication.  Publishing a book is exciting … a bit like meeting you … reading these pages.  G’day to you all from down under!

Can you tell us about your background and how you became interested in poetry and science?  

My love of poetry began before I was old enough to attend a small village school near Leeds in Yorkshire.  Winnie-the-Pooh’s author A A Milne and nonsense poet Edward Lear were my favourites.  I had two little friends living nearby and we would read poems to each other and memorise some of them.  Back then, I thought everyone made up rhymes! 

I did OK with school exams when I was sixteen (only failing O Level French) and wanted to study English Literature and Biology for my last two years at school.  But I was told YOU CAN’T DO SCIENCE AND ARTS TOGETHER.  What a shame!  Since my favourite subject was BIOLOGY, I ended up studying Chemistry and Math, becoming a math teacher after I left College.  Fifty years later, I’m finally following my original passion for writing poetry about biology, science and the environment.  My advice is never to lose sight of your dreams!  

How did you become a science poet and what inspired you to write about science through poetry? 

After a cancer scare, I gave my passion for creating poems more priority.  By 2008, I realised I was writing Science Rhymes.  When I learn something in science that makes me gasp and think “OOOH that’s interesting”, I want to capture it in a word-snap-shot to keep and share.  I wrote some poems about iconic Australian creatures like kangaroos, koalas and crocodiles and wanted my artist friend, Sharon Davson (who advocates for endangered species and a better deal for the environment through her charities and paintings) to illustrate them.  But she never had time.  Besides, it only takes a few minutes to write a rhyme, whereas an oil painting can take months.  So when I visited her studio in Newcastle, New South Wales in 2006, I started writing little poems about her paintings hanging on the walls.  Some, such as Time To Grow  were huge compositions.  I’d research the creatures in the painting and write a poem for each one.  Eventually I realised I was writing Science Rhymes!  Later, I began to focus more on the science rather than just the art and environment.  

When writing in rhyme, the rhymes want to dictate the direction of the story.  Keeping the poem on track is a bit like mustering word-cattle into a corral.  Getting the poem to go in the direction you want is a bit of a weird talent and I now know it’s not something everyone can do.  Don’t let those word-cattle stampede your poem!

What is your creative process like when writing a science rhyme?

Often, I start with a question. When I was working for a Private Detective, typing up his reports from a voice recorder, he described buildings as having cement driveways.  Didn’t he mean concrete?  I wasn’t sure, so I searched for “what’s the difference between cement and concrete” on the internet and saved a list of links to the best website addresses in a word doc.  I told a teacher what I was working on and she instructed me not to forget to remind children not to run on concrete (because falls can lead to nasty injuries).  So I came up with the poem “Don’t Eat Concrete”.  

Other times, after reading news articles from publications such as The Scientist, New York Times or New Scientist, I’ll discover a curious snippet of science that feels perfect for a poem.  With this new information swirling in my head, I go to bed and “sleep on it”.  Going for a walk the next morning, I’ll record some word-ideas on my phone.  Suzie Cray filmed me doing this for a poem called The Turkey of Christmas Past.  

I don’t like writing on a clean sheet of paper.  That pure whiteness scares away my creativity.  I believe it’s better to START WRITING before we start thinking!  Just FEEL like writing and move your pen.  And don’t forget, physical activities are really helpful for finding your creative mood.

by Celia Berrell

Want to think-up something new?
Then walk for creativity.
A steady saunter with a view
can boost your ingenuity.

Troubled by a puzzling quest?
Then dance to find solutions.
Our problem-solving’s at its best
when dance has cleared confusions.

 Got a maths exam to do
and fear attention’s slipping?
Then get your focus back on cue
with short sharp bursts of skipping.

Different types of exercise
can boost our brains quite differently.
And surfing wins the smartest prize
improving working memory!

This poem was first published in Double Helix #6 March 2016.  

My advice is to scrawl, scribble and doodle on second-hand paper, folded so that there isn’t too much white space to play on.  I write the first things that come into my head, cross them out, change others, write lines again, write it ALL again, then maybe again.  I’ll write rhyming words that could be helpful on the right hand side of the paper.  When it’s too full to read easily, I’ll write the rhyme out on another piece of scruffy paper.  Sometimes this process feels like knitting rows in a pattern which need to be unpicked and re-stitched.  

If I get stuck, I’ll walk away and do something completely different like make a phone call with a friend, so I forget what I was writing.  Then it’s a surprise when I come back and I can work with a fresh perspective.  I rarely finish writing a Science Rhyme in one sitting.  It’s mostly just a little bit at a time.  When I think it’s finished, I’ll read it out aloud to myself, then to others.  If I need to explain what I’ve written to the listener, the poem isn’t finished.  If my helpful listener asks questions in response, I’ll try to squeeze the answers into the poem.  

If someone makes a comment that you weren’t expecting, don’t forget: not everyone’s comments about your poem are guaranteed to be positive or helpful.  Try not to take it to heart or think of it as a personal affront if you don’t agree with someone’s response. Choose whose responses you take on board.

Can you talk about your experience with the CSIRO’s Double Helix magazine and the Australian Children’s Poetry blog? 

Once I knew what sort of poems I wanted to write, the next step was to see if they were good enough to be published.  That meant looking for magazines and other places where they might be accepted.  I found out about the CSIRO’s children’s science magazines here in Australia from a family member.  I subscribed to their Scientriffic magazine for children aged 7 – 10 and began submitting poems, inspired by articles I read in the magazines.  I did this for almost a year before I received an email from the editor asking how old I was.  After receiving my honest reply, the editor explained they wouldn’t publish a poem about a science topic the magazine had recently covered … but would I like to try writing a poem about Biodiversity for their January 2010 issue (celebrating the United Nations International Year of Biodiversity)?  At the time, I was reading The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins, so I created the poem Let the Show Go On, inspired by that book.  What a buzz and wonderful reward it was to receive a free copy of Scientriffic Issue 65 in January 2010 with my first poem published and illustrated!  That spurred me on to submit more poems.  Some were published, others not.  I learnt that even when we’ve found the perfect home for our creations, they aren’t always what the editor wants.  Maybe another writer created a better article on that topic.  A rejection didn’t have to mean my poem was no good.  

By 2015 CSIRO offered me a contract for each of the poems they chose to publish.  That means Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation pays me to be a poet!  I got smart – submitting two poems at once – so the editor had a choice!  And by 2016 they began giving me topics to write about.  By the end of 2019, I had the greatest honour.  Twelve month contracts to provide all the poems for their Double Helix magazine!  

Now remember how I was writing two poems for each issue but only one got published … well in 2017, fellow writer and blogger June Perkins (currently Committee Chair of the Queensland Writers Centre) suggested I should submit poems to Australian Children’s Poetry.  They publish a poem each day on their blog and share it with subscribers for free.  The second Science Rhyme they posted on that blog was the first rejected poem I’d submitted to CSIRO’s Scientriffic magazine, titled Cuttlewish.  I’d found a new home for those poems that didn’t get chosen for  CSIRO!

How have your poems been used in schools and textbooks in different countries? 

By 2010 I’d invested in my own website, sharing plenty of Science Rhymes!  Soon I was receiving requests from school textbook publishers for permission to use those poems.  Ten, featured on the webpage Environmental Poetry, were inspired by the artwork by Sharon Davson displayed alongside each poem.  Over half these poems have been published in school textbooks around the world.  

The first request was for Australia’s 2011 Macmillan English 7 textbook which had a special segment on Poetry and Science, featuring The beauty of it all alongside Davson’s image of the painting Called Away.  Receiving a copy of this beautiful textbook and realising my poem was now HOMEWORK for some students was very exciting!  Soon, there were others.  I was happy to give free permission for their use in these educational books.  I would simply ask for a copy, once the textbook was published.  My school textbook collection currently contains books from the following publishers: Nelson (Canada); Educate IE (Ireland); Pelangi (Malaysia) and Next Education (India).  Headword (India) asked permission to use two poems, but perhaps it was for an online English course because I never received a copy.  The State Governments of Uttar Pradesh and Telangana in India didn’t ask permission or offer me a copy of their textbook.  I found out about that one when a student teacher emailed me for a detailed explanation of the poem The Garden Within which they teach to all Year 8 school students.  The Garden Within is featured in an official lesson presentation through Pebbles on You Tube, has been made into a song and translated into Korean and Chinese!   There may be others I don’t know about too.  That’s one of the risks of sharing stuff on the internet.  

Can you tell us about your Science Rhymes Book and the grant you received for training and science editing? 

Firstly I’d recommend anyone who wants to develop their writing skills to join a supportive writer’s group.  I joined the Tropical Writers in Cairns, Queensland, Australia.  

Through developing friendships with fellow writers, I found a network of support that resulted in me being awarded an Arts Grant to develop my Science Rhymes writing skills.  

At the time, it just seemed like a difficult process to ask for some financial support.  But looking back, it created the foundation for some of the most important aspects of my Science Rhymes journey: knowing how to create factually accurate science information within rhymes.  It wasn’t all about the grant money, but the people I encountered through the grant process who guided and educated me on that essential journey to develop my skills.

Tropical Writers Past President Oonagh Prettejohn encouraged me to apply for this Arts Grant.  I was fortunate to find a mentor, Dr Hilary Whitehouse at James Cook University, Cairns, who opened doors and advised me throughout the process.  I’d already written about fifty poems relevant to the curriculum used by UK schools.  Dr Hilary Whitehouse then gave me access to the Primary Connections school science curriculum books for Australia and recommended I contact Science Educator Dr Clifford Jackson to check and guide my work.  Writing associates put me in touch with other primary school teachers, leading to fabulous opportunities to present my poems and ideas within local schools.  I then asked for letters of support from those teachers to help with my grant application.  Asking all these people for such favours wasn’t easy, so I needed to get brave and believe in what I wanted to achieve.  Nobody else was going to do that bit for me!  

Over a twelve month period, I gave Dr Clifford Jackson 120 poems.  It was a bit like handing in homework!  The outcome was 70 scientifically accurate poems published in The Science Rhymes Book.  Some of my original poems had to be thrown out because I’d used unreliable website sources where the science had been sensationalised and wasn’t accurate.  Nowadays, if I find some science I like on Twitter or other social media platforms, I will always double check that a reputable source such as Science Daily, Museums, NASA (or website addresses ending in .gov or .edu) say the same thing.  That was the best lesson I learnt from Dr Jackson in the grant process.  

Local high school student, Amy Sheehan, created images for the UK curriculum poems.  However by 2014 she was too busy representing Australia in the Sochi Winter Olympics to finish illustrating the final collection.  So I organised a small print-run of the UK poems she’d illustrated to celebrate Amy’s Skiing achievements.  (Because many of the poems were already shared on the Science Rhymes website, I knew the collection wasn’t suitable for a commercial publisher.)  After Margaret Askew created images for the remaining poems, The Science Rhymes Book was partner-published with Gloria Webb from Jabiru Publishing in Cairns and launched at the Cairns Tropical Writers Festival in 2018.  I had known Gloria through attending writing groups since 2006, so I felt comfortable working with her.  I had other writing friends who had bad experiences with getting published.  It can be a sensitive and sometimes-too-expensive process.  

The Science Rhymes Book is for sale through Jabiru Publishing, the Science Rhymes website and on the Fraser Coast in Queensland Australia or as an Amazon Kindle eBook.

How has your poetry been received by children, especially those with Autism? 

Poetry, like music, takes many forms. I think my poems are word-jingles with a science message.  They aren’t literary masterpieces!  They don’t express powerful emotions.  They simply deliver clear messages so readers aren’t confused.  They’re often funny or cheeky too.  

These qualities make them easy to digest for children, particularly those on the autism spectrum.  They’re also popular with students and adults learning English as a second language.  With tight rhythms and patterns, they’re popular as poetry pieces at Eisteddfods and other English Language poetry recitals occurring around the world.  They share science concepts of interest to all ages.  

One that I’m particularly proud of is called DECODING SHADOWS.  I wrote it for the CSIRO Double Helix magazine’s theme of gems and crystals.  Again, it was a question that came into my head, for which I had NO IDEA what the answer was.  I’d read articles that mentioned X-ray crystallography.  Crystallography contains the word crystal and it is definitely something to do with science, so I asked my friendly search engine to help.  TWO WEEKS LATER, I had the gist of an answer in my head.  I also realised the process of X-ray crystallography is extremely time-consuming and mathematically complicated.  Jasmine Fellows (Double Helix Editor) said it was one of the best explanations she’d read … and chose to publish it.

by Celia Berrell

X-rays are light waves
with high energy
that help us to see
what we can’t really see.

Aimed at a crystal
some X-rays get scattered.
We capture their dotty
and spot-shadowed patterns.

Those patterns can show us
the whole crystal’s structure,
from which we can build
an atom-filled picture.

From diamonds to proteins
those pictures amaze,
revealing just how and why
crystals behave.  

This poem was first published in Double Helix #38 March 2020.  

What is the Science Rhymes theme for this year and how can students and adults get involved? 

CLEVER CONCEPTS IN SCIENCE is the 2023 theme for science poem submissions.  You can join in by sending a short rhyming verse poem about science to [email protected].  The best poems will be shared on the Science Rhymes website for Australia’s Science Week in August.  

The Science Week website announced its theme for schools in 2023 as INNOVATION.  I’ve created the complementary topic CLEVER CONCEPTS IN SCIENCE that lends itself to writing poetry.  I’m making a pdf presentation of Science Rhymes examples, suggestions and ideas to help you come up with your own poetry.  I’ll post this information on the Science Rhymes website’s National Science Week page and submit it to the Science Week organisation.  They’ll then add it to their internet platform as a poetry contest or science experience in June.  

People of all ages (and other countries) submit their poems for this project.  The best ones are featured in a blog on the Science Rhymes website each August.  I’m mainly looking for short rhyming verse poems (1 to 5 verses) but also consider clever acrostics.  I’ve already received a submission of a four verse rhyme using ChatGPT.  What are your views on that?  Is it cheating?  I’ll put Black Holes by Nicky & ChatGPT in the free pdf so you can check it out and tell me what you think!

Can you talk about the impact you hope your science rhymes have on children and their education? 

For a student, the experience of trying to write a poem about science, however good or bad that poem turns out to be, promotes FOCUS.  Something magic happens.  We start asking more questions, which in turn helps us understand more about that scientific topic, which is a great scientific trait!  The art of writing in rhyme helps us remember them too.  When we create a science poem that’s easy to understand, it’s worth sharing as it empower others to feel scientifically savvy too.  

At school, did you prefer to avoid topics that confused you?  I avoided physics only to find out later that I really liked a lot of it!  We tend to switch off when we hear provocative scientific phrases like “genetically modified” or “nuclear fusion”.  But if we take a little time to write a little rhyme about it, we might find ourselves going “ahh, I hadn’t realised there were so many different aspects to this thing and some of them are not so scary and even interesting!”  Are artists scientists too?  They definitely invent new ways of looking at things.  I see Science Rhymes as a quirky bridge connecting art and science, engaging us in our fascination for life and the universe.  

I hope students will have a go at writing a science poem (which helps us remember more about a topic), or read some and realise they understand science.  I want them to connect with the topic and feel empowered to pursue their own curiosity with more confidence.  

It’s disappointing how some people try to make us feel stupid because we asked a question.  Asking questions isn’t a sign of weakness or failure.  Having lots of questions to ask shows how ingenious we are.  Ask away – questions are good!

I wonder if a list of questions could become a great poem.  Are you willing to try?

Can you tell us about your experience with networking with schools and participating in Science Week in Australia? 

My avatar was the ALIEN QUEEN OF SCIENCE POETRY!  This helped me feel less nervous when reciting poems at Science Fairs, shopping centres and school events. Through joining a local Toastmasters Club, I learnt to transform that fear into enthusiasm.  I wonder if this is what my zany science hero in Australia, Dr Karl Kruszelnicki, does?

Later, I discovered something I haven’t shared before.  Hearing students read out my poems was SO MUCH BETTER than hearing my own voice!  It gives me goose bumps.  And when I hear a student recite a really good poem they’ve written about science, the floor drops away and I float in this moment where I can feel the parents and teachers in the room swim with me in amazement of what they are hearing and how savvy and beautiful our kids can be.  I’ve had some very moving emails from parents telling me that these poetic Science Week projects have really helped their children’s confidence and made a positive difference in their lives.

How has being a member of the Society of Book Writers and Illustrators helped your career? 

Writing this in a holiday apartment in Cairns after attending the Cairns Tropical Writer’s Festival 2023 (where I finally met my science hero Dr Karl Kruszelnicki), the highlight for me was attending the panel discussion by the Far North Queensland chapter of the Society of Book Writers and Illustrators.  This SCBWI group is an important part of my writing life.  They have a wealth of experience and advice.  

I also benefitted from attending the SCBWI Writer’s Conference in Winchester UK in 2014 where I heard helpful stories about publishing problems; how to establish your  children’s author profile,  I saw how disadvantaged some authors, who were too shy to effectively share their stories with a school audience, were.  I received compassionate feedback from a workshop group (many of whom were teachers), which led me to realise a recent writing project wasn’t working.  Having honest people to suggest when you’re on the right track and when you’re not is very valuable.

Can you tell us about any new projects or future plans you have for Science Rhymes? 

I came to the Cairns Tropical Writers Festival to find help with publishing two new books.  Unable to engage with a commercial publisher for these latest projects, I returned to Cairns to network with this dynamic writing community.  I’d love to tell All Ages of Geek how things develop a bit later.  I’m currently negotiating with a young man who recently left school.  If he is happy to work with me, he is going to create images of cryptic creatures that live at the bottom of the ocean.  I haven’t finished all the poems yet, but it will be called Science Rhymes down in the Sea.  I’d love to show Canadian film director James Cameron what we’re doing in this book as his amazing trip to the bottom of the Mariana Trench was a great inspiration for this book.

Can you talk about the recognition and awards you have received for your work with Science Rhymes? 

In 2010, I submitted a poem titled Replanting Neurons for a poetry contest promoting awareness for stem cell research at the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM).  It won third place and the first three poems were displayed on USA Today.  I was REALLY EXCITED!  But the first and second placed poems were controversial, so CIRM removed all record of this contest.  The USA Today link has gone too.  But CIRM gave me a framed photograph of the microscopic image of neurons which inspired the poem, which is displayed on the back of the frame.  To connect with a wider audience about contentious science issues, we need to be respectful.  It is important for us all to have some practical understanding of complex issues in a democratic society in order to keep a rational balance.  That was the closest I’ve come to winning a poetry contest.  Submitting to the right contests is the tricky part. Instead, I see all those school textbooks as award certificates.  They show my poems have been appreciated for their educational merit.  Last year, Science Rhymes was voted in the top ten children’s poetry blogs by Twinkl.  And Baobabooks asked to use my poem Peace by Piece for their World Peace Day activities.  And now All Ages of Geek have invited me to share some of my Science Rhymes story.  These are all great honours ☺

How do you balance teaching and writing about science through poetry? 

Before I retired from my part-time job as an Administrator for Cairns Neurophysiology, I would squeeze in visits to local schools, sharing presentations about writing rhyming poetry, delivering themes from the Primary Connections curriculum, the Solar System or topics I’d created for National Science Week.  From 2015, I organised an annual Picture Book Poetry Garden Party for local primary school students to recite their science poems in a safe non-school environment such as at a pretty resort location.  I’d invite a local children’s author and we’d showcase their latest picture book along with my Science Rhymes book.  My full-time teaching finished when I left England.  I think that good teachers are treasures. It takes a special kind of person to be a good teacher.  I believe we are all talented.  Sometimes the hard part is finding where those talents lie.

Can you tell us about your experience with social media and promoting Science Rhymes online? 

When I began in 2009, parents and schools were strictly selective about internet access for students.  Platforms like You Tube were blocked.  It was important to have the Science Rhymes website for people to discover.  The Science Rhymes Facebook page is where I share milestones such as Science Rhymes events and achievements plus links to other science related platforms and posts that I particularly like which student followers might enjoy.  I use Twitter to search for science news (such as following the James Webb Space Telescope’s journey and images).  On Twitter, I will share Science Rhymes blogs or share topics there that aren’t necessarily for children, but hold my interest.  I like re-tweeting poems by Sam Illingworth who is a science communicator from Edinburgh Napier University UK.  I try to remember to share significant things on Linkedin too.  But I often forget to give my posts hashtags.  I’m aware I’m not that savvy when it comes to social media … but the right people still seem to find me!

What advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing a career in science poetry? 

Firstly, don’t quit your day job!  From the outset, my mentor, Dr Hilary Whitehouse at James Cook University, told me not to expect to earn lots of money from science poetry books.  Giving school presentations was a better option.  Fortunately, with twelve month contracts for CSIRO’s Double Helix magazines, I’ve kept earning money from my science poetry even though I was unable to visit schools during COVID lockdowns.  But she was right.  Maybe my next two books will change that!

Can you tell us about any challenges you have faced in your career and how you have overcome them? 

I used to be particularly scared of live radio interviews.  When I worked at a Women’s Health Centre, I was sometimes expected to promote the centre’s activities on radio and the process made me feel positively ill.  Before I settled on writing rhyming poetry about science, I completed about eighty poems about Sharon Davson’s art.  She asked me to recite some at gallery exhibition openings and radio interviews, which freaked me out.  But I wanted to give my creations the opportunity to go out into the world and be appreciated.  So I joined a Toastmasters Club to help me overcome this problem.  After winning some speech contests, a Toastmaster friend, Pauline Douglas from Splash Marketing, arranged a television interview for me in Sydney in 2011!  Yes, I was very nervous, but I did it … and didn’t die ☺  I’ve kept attending Toastmasters as it helps me to stay in practice.  Nowadays I even enjoy giving radio interviews – and perhaps I’ll get the chance to do another TV interview one day.  

When it comes to genre, there isn’t one for Science Rhymes.  In the local libraries, my book is either hidden in the adult poetry section, or seems out of place hanging out with the children’s picture books.  Librarians don’t consider science poetry as a non-fiction resource, but that’s how I think of it.  I only have a Teaching diploma rather than a degree in science.  Perhaps this is why there’s limited opportunity for me to work with commercial children’s book publishers.  But I see my lack of science qualifications as empowering for readers.  We can all enjoy engaging in science!  It doesn’t have to be serious or professional.

Science engagement for children doesn’t have to be a sensationally explosive to be fun.  It can be quietly fascinating – like a pretty garden path where you think “I wonder where this leads?” 

Can you talk about your childhood and how it has influenced your work with Science Rhymes? 

As well as being obsessed with Winnie-the-Pooh and enjoying poetry from an early age, I liked tap dancing.  Both parents played piano and encouraged an appreciation of music.  They’d borrow musical instruments from friends, so my sister and I could try them out for a few weeks at a time.  I learnt to play classical guitar and participated in Scottish dancing at high school.  Counting eight beats in a bar, while visualising patterns, became second nature.  Many of my poems have eight beats to a line and four lines to a verse! 

Mixing rhythm with words and feeling their musicality is a language delight to me.  My mother and I used to play a game where we tried to give birdsongs lyrics.  The dove said “take two cows taffy, take two cows”.  Here in Australia, there’s one nearby singing “It’s not FAIR.  It’s not FAIR.”  Another says “What did you DO?  What did you DO?”  Fitting words and phrases to birdsong rhythms is a kind of poetry game.

What is your favorite science rhyme you have written and why? 

To pick only one is hard!  I’m choosing COSMIC GLITTER.  It began as a question: why do stars twinkle?  Is this something I should be embarrassed to say I didn’t know?  This poem is for misguided adults like me as well as for kids.  

This poem is an example of how new creations are often inspired by someone else’s!  In this case, the first two words are borrowed from The Star by Jane Taylor – which we know as the nursery rhyme Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.  And like any good question in science, my version leads to another question!  I learnt a lot from writing this pretty little rhyme.

by Celia Berrell

Twinkle, twinkle cloudless night
the stars are sparkling clear and bright.
Those pin-prick suns send rays of light
that blink and wink to our delight.

Those stars don’t twinkle at their source,
it’s just some rays get knocked off course.
Their glittering images appear
because of Earth’s own atmosphere.

The layers of air around our world,
like flimsy see-through curtains swirl
and dapple starlight passing through.
So, does the moonlight twinkle too?

It was first published by CSIRO in their Scientriffic magazine issue 78, March 2012.  After this one, I was paid for the poems they chose to publish.  Yay!

(P.S. You won’t see the Moon twinkling because it is so big and bright, we wouldn’t notice the odd photon being knocked out of view.  But when there are only a few photons reaching our eye from a star that is light years away from us, the air in our atmosphere makes it shimmer.) 

Can you share with us a message you would like to convey to children and educators through Science Rhymes? 

We all have an innate sense of curiosity.  Through current technology, if we can read and have access to the internet, there’s a universe of answers waiting for us.  But too much stuff can be overwhelming.  We back off and want to avoid complexity.  Science Rhymes hands you a verbal snack to tickle your mental tastebuds and empower everyone to connect with aspects of science in a gently artistic or amusing manner.  Science Rhymes are the advertising jingles that invite you to come in and try; to open the door to your “wait there’s more” curiosity.

What do you think about All Ages of Geek? We are now getting more involved with STEM and literacy for kids. What can we improve on? 

I think you’ve interviewed and showcased some fascinating people and delivered some exciting ideas.  I was tempted to join with GeekMomWorld’s suggestions for teaching digital literacy on Valentine’s Day.  Keeping us all safe on the internet (and particularly children) through guidance and familiarity rather than access denial is a must these days.  The cloud-streets and internet-cities of our lives require us to be wary of strangers and negotiate the traffic.  Ame Dyckman’s Dinosaur Safety picture book sounds like a fabulous concept.  I can imagine that would have taken plenty of research and so much fun coming up with ideas for that.  I also enjoyed Ava Gardner’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: 8 Intriguing things to know.  Your articles provide a sense of connection and camaraderie and there is certainly plenty to share for all of us with “quirky compartments of passion and interest”.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Sincere THANKS for inviting me!  I hope some of you will be inspired to send a short rhyming science poem (email: [email protected]) after reading this.  If you need extra help, we’ve discovered ChatGPT can write Science Rhymes too (when given the right instructions).  Not as good as ours – yet, but maybe you could use it as a Science Rhymes assistant?

That’s a wrap on our inspiring journey with Celia Berrell, the talented Science Rhymes poet who’s shown us the power of embracing new challenges. We hope you’ve enjoyed learning about Celia’s creative process, her upcoming projects, and her unique approach to poetry. Remember, sometimes all it takes is a simple YES to transform your life and unleash your creativity. Don’t forget to share your own short rhyming poem about science with Celia, and stay tuned for more exciting content on All Ages of Geek. Until next time, keep exploring and supporting the amazing talents in our community!