Zoe Garvie from Kinross is a science outreach educator who teaches the
subject in a fun way.
Through working in schools and providing workshops for events, Zoe’s
vision is to enthuse youngsters between the ages of three and twelve
years-old with an interest in – and a love for - STEM subjects.
She is also currently working with the community learning development
department at Perth and Kinross Council where part of her role is
engaging with the community in the new development at Oudenarde
on the outskirts of Bridge of Earn in Perthshire.
Zoe came across the GrowBiz website when she was researching for her
business and immediately booked to attend two learning sessions and a
Women’s Enterprise Network meeting in Kinross.
Since then she has been a regular attendee at GrowBiz events and attended the two-day ‘dreams into practice’ workshop. Her business continues to grow alongside her family and other work commitments.
Zoe went to university late in life, studied general science and graduated with a distinction, a passion for science and two pre-school children before going on to set up her own business at the start of 2019. As she says, life would never be the same again.
Through her social enterprise, which she set up a couple of years ago, she aims to share her passion for science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) with generations of young people.
She says that she was “fortunate to have some savings to invest in equipment and sensible enough to take advice”.
The enterprise journey
Explaining what motivates her, Zoe says: “I really believe in what I’m doing. That’s not enough to run a business but when you have to start small with limited knowledge of business practice, it helped to keep me striving.
Zoe has combined developing her business with raising a young family and working for projects such as Aero Space Kinross, an aviation, astronomy and space flight science centre in the heart of Scotland and says that “planning and flexibility have been key”.
She explains: “I volunteered for Aero Space Kinross, a fantastic community benefit society, before I graduated and was offered a contract to carry out outreach work when my business was only just past being a dream.”
As well as her passion for sharing a love of all things STEM, the enthusiasm of the youngsters she meets also inspires her.
“Initially, I thought I could just do science parties to pay my wages and fund the social causes I was passionate about.
“But when I actually added the numbers, I’d have to charge far more than I was willing to make it profitable. When it comes to social impact, I realised how naive I was about the pressures facing some children and I am still adapting in the attempt to make the best impact I can, to help them achieve a positive future.
But she adds: “After school visits, I ask the children to fill out an anonymous feedback form. Amongst other questions, they are asked whether they had fun. Every child has answered yes to that question. 90 per cent of children also report an increased interest in science, technology, engineering or maths as a result of a workshop. That’s why I’m doing what I’m doing.”
Zoe says that she “took advice from whoever was willing to give it”, adding that she first found out about GrowBiz when she was searching the internet for information on pricing.
She added: “As a third sector business there were quite a few learning opportunities available to me in the form of workshops but with GrowBiz the help is personal and continues after the day of the workshop.
“GrowBiz has always made me feel that there’s someone to answer my questions and lend their expertise and guidance. Starting out on your own can be quite a lonely undertaking but between the networking events facilitated by GrowBiz and their constant, gentle support, I have not felt alone.
“The GrowBiz events have been particularly helpful to link with fellow entrepreneurs and gain relevant knowledge. I find GrowBiz networking events to be both useful and motivating. Chatting with other entrepreneurs is a good re-energising tonic.
“I would definitely recommend GrowBiz to other people setting out on their business journey. Rural communities need opportunities for young, old and the community, to thrive. Not only can tourism and local jobs be driven by rural businesses but they can enrich the lives of people in the area.
“GrowBiz increases the chances of rural entrepreneurs creating a viable, sustainable business.”
Looking to the future
Zoe says that her dream is to be able to set up self-perpetuating STEM clubs and making facilities, particularly in deprived areas, to encourage a love of STEM in children.
She says: “These would allow them a safe space for exploration and experimentation, to nurture a belief in themselves, and hone the ability to collaborate and learn from mistakes.”
In the meantime, however, she is just working towards being busy enough to provide employment which fits around parenthood, work experience for interested youths, including looked-after children, and to make a positive impact to the children attending her workshops or benefiting from funded initiatives.