Moderator Vacancies November 2014

I’m a Scientist, Get me out of here, is an award-winning event where school students (age 9–18) interact with real scientists online. We’re looking for 4 moderators to work on the next event which will run 10th–21st November 2014.

At the same time we’ll also be running I’m a Scientist Ireland, and for the very first time, I’m an Engineer Ireland which will also need moderating.

Your key responsibilities will be:

  • Moderating live chats between scientists and school students.
  • Checking and approving questions.
  • Adding appropriate keywords and tags.
  • Logging and keeping track of questions, comments and dialogue.
  • Checking the site for errors, and inappropriate content and display names.
  • Helping to run the site.

It’s a lot of fun as the students (and scientists) are quick and funny and full of energy. And hey, promoting science engagement is a good thing, right?!

What we’d like from you..

  • You should be bright, thoughtful, pick stuff up easily, ideally with an interest in science engagement.
  • You’ll have great attention to detail and will enjoy being online, perhaps have experience in an online community.
  • The site is all built on WordPress, so if you’ve used that the techy stuff will be pretty familiar.
  • You’d be working from home, so you must also have broadband which doesn’t die every 10 minutes.

Please send a short covering letter and CV ASAP (by Monday 27th October 2014 at the latest), to Josh at, telling us why you think you’d be a good moderator.

  • Dates: 10th–21st November 2014, Monday–Friday
  • Hours: 37.5/week, 08.30–16.00 GMT
  • Pay: £8.00/hr (including holiday pay)

You can (and should) find out more about the events at:,, and You might also want to read this, on what kind of thing we’re looking for.

Posted on October 10, 2014 Moderator - Josh in News | Leave a comment

I’m a Scientist, Get me in there!

By the end of the month we’ll be selecting the scientists to take part in the November round of I’m a Scientist. Of all the emails we get from prospective scientists, the most common are probably: “how will I know if I’ve been selected?”, and “how does the application process work?”.

So — in our never-ending benevolence — we wanted to give you a peek at the how we choose scientists, and what happens once you send us your application.

When do we select scientists?

I’m a Scientist runs in March, June, and November every year. We select scientists around a month before each event.

The next event will be the 10th–21st November, so we’ll select them at the beginning of October. The deadline for the application is September 29th.

What’s the most important part of the form?

The most important part is the box that asks for a summary of your work; the part into which all your creativity and communication skills should be poured.

One sentence summary of your work

One sentence summary of your work

We email the summaries to students and teachers who’ve taken part before and they rate the scientists. They get is a survey containing only the summaries. So it’s really important that it (a) concisely says what kind of research you do, and (b) is going to be interesting to a 13 year-old student.

We read through all the summaries, seeing who fits the themes for the zones that we’re running in a given event (e.g. “I work at CERN”, won’t get you into the Animal Behaviour Zone, but might get you into the Particle Physics Zone).

Then we pick the best group of people for each zone, taking into account the students’ ratings, scientists’ summaries, as well as trying to get a good mix of institutions and research levels. (At this point, “I work at CERN” probably doesn’t get in, because someone else might have had a similar, but better description, e.g. “I use the biggest machine to search for the smallest particles of the universe”.)

Keep your summary short and to the point, but make sure it grabs the students’ attention!

If you’re selected…

If you’re selected to take part, we’ll email you asking you to confirm your place. Please reply to that email as soon as possible, whether or not you still want to take part; saves us having to chase you.

…and if not…

If you’re not chosen, we’ll email to let you know a couple of weeks after the application deadline.

Once you sign up to the list you stay there, so if you don’t get in selected for the next event you’ll be considered for the following one. If you’re not selected in November, you will be considered for the following March, June, and so on until you update your preferences to say just keep me updated. (All the emails we send out have the option to update your preferences.)

Sometimes, if we know we’re running a specific zone in a later event, we might choose not to offer you a place in the next event, but save your application for the later round of I’m a Scientist.

From time to time, we might also email you about taking part in one-off events, like the Christmas Lectures Zone, or an I’m a Scientist, Live event.

Apply now!

Find the application page here:
The application deadline for the November event is Monday 29th September 2014. We’ll be selecting scientists for the next event in March in February.

Posted on September 9, 2014 Moderator - Josh in Scientists | Leave a comment

What Jack Heal did with his prize money…

Jack Heal tied in first place (with Tom Branson) to win the Drug Discovery Zone in March 2013, and got £500 to spend on further science engagement. Let’s take a look at how he spent his winnings…

Taking part in I’m a scientist, Get me out of here was an excellent experience, and I was delighted and surprised to be a joint winner. Happily, Tom and I each received the full £500 prize money, so the tied vote meant that even more money went towards science communication!

I donated my money to the charity TASTE for Science. You can find out more about the charity here: TASTE stands for The African Science Truck Experience. The work they do is genuinely amazing; it has the potential to change lives and science for the better. They have a science truck which they take around schools in Uganda, teaching science. The schools are poor and can’t afford their own equipment, so the truck gives children the chance to learn as well as to take part in and enjoy science.

£10 funds a year’s worth of regular experiments for a child. The £500 from I’m a Scientist will therefore fund a year’s worth of regular experiments for 50 children. That truly is making a glorious impact on many lives.

The money was donated in September 2013, and I would like to pass on the following thank-you from Theo Sanderson from Taste for Science, who had this message for EVERYONE who took part in the event:

We just wanted to write to say thank you for the donation of your I’m a Scientist winnings to The African Science Truck Experience. Your donation will make a profound contribution to our efforts to bring practical science to students in Uganda.

We’d also really like to thank all the students who participated in the I’m a Scientist Drugs Discovery Zone by asking questions and getting involved. One of the great things we love about I’m a Scientist is seeing the unique questions that students ask; our favourite one that you had to answer was, “If you had a chance to be a bacteria what would you be and why?” Tough call!

These unique questions show students’ curiosity, and their desire to discover: which is what drives science forwards. But this curiosity often needs to be nurtured. It’s nurtured by getting to interact with real scientists with events like I’m a Scientist, and we think it is nurtured by getting the chance to carry out real experiments in lessons, something that is sadly missing from many Ugandan classrooms.

With your help, and the votes of all those students, we’re going to be able to teach exciting practical lessons, and to reach more than a thousand students with our mobile laboratory. Most recently the kids have been playing with electric circuits and using chemical tests to discover what’s in our food, it’s always a lot of fun and students learn a great deal from these active approaches to learning.

I think that illustrates what everybody’s contribution to this event has helped to accomplish! Thank you all so much for your votes and above all your participation.

The money has gone towards a truly excellent cause!

Posted on September 3, 2014 Moderator - Josh in News | Leave a comment

Understanding Animal Research – Google Hangout

UARBefore our most recent June 2014 I’m a Scientist event we partnered with Understanding Animal Research to run a Google Hangout for scientists who work with animals.

Students often ask the scientists for their views on animal testing, and we want to help give scientists the confidence to be open and talk about working with animals in their research.

John Meredith, Education Manager at UAR, ran this session with six scientists who were taking part in I’m a Scientist the following week:

The A word: how to talk about animals in medical research 
This informal webinar presented by Understanding Animal Research will look at how and why we should talk about animals in medical research. It will cover current public attitudes to animal research, the facts and figures, the value of openness and how to answer the tricky questions or deal with confrontation. There will be plenty of time for questions and discussion during and after the presentation, which should last around an hour.

We asked the scientists to fill in a short survey after they’d taken part in I’m a Scientist, to assess whether the Hangout was useful, and whether we should offer it before every event.

Five scientists gave very positive feedback. In summary they found the Hangout useful and informative, but often didn’t use the training in I’m a Scientist as students didn’t ask about animal research, and the scientists didn’t want to bring it up. If we run it again we could make it more interactive, giving the scientists more practice in answering potentially difficult questions during the session.

Was the Google Hangout good?

  • All 5 scientists said yes

Did you use the training during the event?

  • 3 said no, because it didn’t come up, and they didn’t want to mention it unless they had to
  • 1 said yes, finding themselves using the training many times during the event
  • 1 said a little, but they didn’t get many questions on it

Did it make you more confident to talk about animal research?

  • All 5 scientists said yes
  • 1 of the scientists mentioned they were wary of talking about animal research in the live chats, in case time ran out and they couldn’t explain their work properly

Would you recommend it to others?

  • All 5 scientists said yes

How would you improve it?

  • Open the session up and ask for individuals input more
  • Links to resources that show that animal experimentation is not ‘animal cruelty’
  • Have more scientists who use animals in their work, to encourage more open discussion among peers

And a few other comments:

“Very helpful and answered a lot of the questions I had about discussing animal research with the public”

“I have contacted UAR and organised a school visit of my own!”

Posted on August 6, 2014 Moderator - Rosie in Evaluation, IAS Event, News | Leave a comment

Agriculture Zone Report – June 2014

AgricultureThe Agriculture Zone winner, Jennifer Stephens, stands out as really engaging with the students. She gave nearly half of the answers in the zone, and two thirds of all the live chat from the scientists. The students were particularly interested in genetically modified organisms (GMO), particularly whether it’s safe to eat genetically modified plants.


Download the complete report here.


Posted on July 16, 2014 modangela in 2014, Zone Reports | Leave a comment

Animal Behaviour Zone Report – June 2014

animalThe students in the Animal Behaviour Zone asked a lot of factual questions about animals, and the topic of animal testing was also brought up on several occasions. The scientists in this zone were all very engaged (they shared answering questions nearly evenly between all 5 of them) and were particularly good at answering questions as soon as they were approved. Interestingly, the focus of this zone was more in the CHAT section rather than in ASK, whereas previous Animal Behaviour Zones attracted many more ASK questions from students.

Download complete report here.

Posted on July 16, 2014 modangela in 2014, Zone Reports | Leave a comment

Astronomy Zone Report – June 2014

astroThe Astronomy Zone was very popular among teachers, and it was the first zone to be fully booked. Students’ questions were really focused and on-topic, as well as very specific and consistent, probably due to students being familiar with the term “astronomy”.  This was the zone with the highest activity in the CHAT section, with 18 live chats and over 7,700 lines of live chat. All the scientists in the zone were really engaged, sharing the load of questions answering and chatting in the ASK and CHAT sections between all 5 of them, as well as lots of discussion on Twitter. Zone winner Roberto decided to donate his prize money to the runner-up Sam, as he already has enough outreach funds to run his own public engagement projects.

Download the complete report here.

Posted on July 16, 2014 modangela in 2014, Zone Reports | Leave a comment

Barium Zone Report – June 2014

bariumThe Barium Zone was a primary school zone. This zone had few registered students, and lower student activity than average. After visiting certain primary schools during the event, we have seen how the dynamics of the event change slightly from what we have observed in secondary schools. This might partially explain the lower activity registered in some of the primary school zones, as some teachers would register students in groups rather than individually, or run the whole activity with just their teacher account. The Barium Zone winner, Ekbal, stands out as really engaging with the students, contributing over half of all the live chat activity from the scientists

Download the complete report here.

Posted on July 16, 2014 modangela in 2014, Zone Reports | Leave a comment

Bioinformatics Zone Report – June 2014

bioinfoThe Bioinformatics Zone was lively, with over 800 questions asked and busy live chats, even though only 5 schools registered students in the zone. All the scientists were good at answering ASK questions quickly, and Sergey, Claire, and Ian were particularly good at live chats, covering most of them. The students in this zone seemed to understand the scientists’ research better than in previous Big Data themed zones, and asked each scientist about them: they asked Sergey about programming, Ian about how genes work in the brain and Claire about genetic mutations.

Download the complete report here.

Posted on July 16, 2014 modangela in 2014, Zone Reports | Leave a comment

Diamond Zone Report – June 2014

diamondThe Diamond Zone was funded by the Science and Technologies Facilities Council and featured scientists working at Diamond Light Source, using it for their research or using data collected at Diamond. This zone was extremely busy with the largest number of students registered during this event: 524 students, of whom 82% asked questions, took part in a chat, commented, or voted for a scientist. The chats were always buzzing with a broad range of questions, reflecting the different work of the scientists. The ASK section was also very busy, but scientists kept up with the questions at all times, giving over 1,000 answers between them! Students in the zone were really keen to know more about the scientists’ work, as shown by the questions’ keywords below.

Download the complete report here.

Posted on July 16, 2014 modangela in 2014, Zone Reports | Leave a comment