This Tiny Change Can Make You Fall In Love With Science
Olivia Pavco-Giaccia is the founder of LabCandy, a company that pairs brightly colored lab gear with science storybooks to encourage young girls to pursue science. We spoke with Olivia to discover why science inspires her, and why it's so important for girls to be science literate.
Learning to Love Science
As a little girl, Olivia didn't know any scientists and wasn't particularly interested in the field. It wasn't until Olivia got lucky and had two exceptional female science teachers that she decided to tackle the subject.
"They were very enthusiastic and encouraged me to give science a try," she said.
In the past, Olivia had always been intimidated by science. She even thought the subject had a bit of a negative, nerdy connotation.
"I thought science is the sort of thing you read about in dusty old textbooks," she said. "But they taught me that science is so much more than that. It's about creativity and critical thinking and problem solving."
A Girl's Guide To Some Seriously Sweet Science
Those lessons lived with Olivia into high school, where she continued her interests in science. The summer after Olivia's junior year in high school, she even worked in a neurobiology lab at Stanford and blogged about her experiences. She called the blog LabCandy: A Girl's Guide To Some Seriously Sweet Science.
One day, Olivia posted a photo to her blog that featured a pair of fabulous bedazzled lab goggles. She didn't think anything of it until she logged onto her blog the next day to be greeted with a flood of comments from across the country. Girls wanted to know where they could get their own pairs of jewel-encrusted lab goggles.
"That was the moment I realized I had stumbled across something that was bigger than just a blog post," Olivia said.
But the idea had to sit on the back burner for a bit. As her senior year of high school began, Olivia was extremely busy with both school and college applications. It was only after she became a freshman at Yale that she would visit the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute and resume her work with LabCandy.
"I told them about my crazy idea to make bedazzled lab goggles and miraculously they didn't laugh at me," Olivia said.
Instead, they encouraged her to apply for the summer scholarship program. She did, and spent the summer working as a summer fellow at the institute.
Fighting Science Stereotypes
From there, LabCandy developed into something more. In addition to stylish goggles, they also offered bright patterned lab coats.
"I think that no one has really thought of this before because people forget sometimes that science is fun and colorful," she said. "That image of the nerdy, old male scientist in the stiff white lab coat and thick plastic goggles has been taken as what serious science looks like. The truth is that it's not the case."
Eventually, LabCandy also came to include workbooks that tell a story while detailing educational science experiments. Each story includes a character and a problem to be solved.
"When I was creating these characters, I wanted to create girls who were fun and vivacious and colorful and relatable who also happened to be scientists," Olivia said. "I wanted their experiment to be something that could provide solutions to the problems that a young girl might experience in her day to day life."
For even more on Olivia Pavco-Giaccia and LabCandy, be sure to check out their website here! Also stay tuned for even more about LabCandy tomorrow, and join our community at Sweety High to share your own science adventures with us.