This March, Enquiry Zone returns in I’m a Scientist. This zone is where you help school students design and carry out their own research. By talking with students in live chats and answering their questions in ASK, together you’ll come up with a potential citizen science project related to your research that can be done in a school environment.
After two weeks of online discussion between 5th-16th March, the students will vote for one project to receive £500 in funding. You will then help the schools carry out the research in June 2018.
You don’t need to have a research question decided now: Your aim during the course of the zone is to help the students come up with and refine a research question and the appropriate methods. This process is called ‘co-creation’ and it is a central part of engaging citizen science.
The Enquiry Zone is open to all scientists from any field, including those who’ve taken part in I’m a Scientist previously. To apply, read the FAQ below and then follow the appropriate link here:
I’ve applied before or I’ve taken part in IAS previously: Go straight to this form and select Enquiry Zone when asked.
I haven’t applied for I’m a Scientist before: Apply now at imascientist.org.uk/scientist-apply and choose Enquiry Zone on the form that you are then emailed.
The deadline to apply is Monday 29th January
Could you seeing what birds like which food?
Enquiry Zone FAQ
What sort of projects work well in citizen science?
Exactly what you investigate and the sort of data you collect is up to you and the students to work out together. As a general rule, citizen science projects work well when the research question is relevant to the ‘citizens’, that is, the students, and the data is easy to collect.
Last year, winner Sallie Baxendale and the students designed an experiment that discovered how the negative things you hear about someone affect your judgement of their appearance.
Imagining what you can actually do in a school could be tough for you as a scientist. Handily, you’ll be able to consult the experts: Ask the students what they think works in a school environment.
What is the schedule?
- 29th January: Deadline to apply for the zone, include the general area of research you want to investigate.
- 5th Feb: Scientists and schools selected for Enquiry Zone
- 5th–16th March: IAS event and winning project voted for.
- April: Final plan for research project.
- June: Carry out research with schools.
What do I need to submit to apply for the zone?
Apply through the normal scientist application form. You’ll then receive an email asking you to choose a zone. On that form select Enquiry Zone and then leave a short, accessible description of the research area you’re interested in, i.e. Investigating the athletic performance of school children.
If you’ve already applied for IAS, or taken part previously, go straight to the form here: Choose Zones Form.
What happens if I win the Zone?
You receive £500 to help set up the research project, and we’ll put you in direct contact with teachers at the schools from the zone. You’ll then be committed to working with the schools from March up to June and the end of the project. You’ll be able to continue using the Enquiry Zone to engage with the teachers and children, there’ll be no need to travel anywhere. We’ll provide you with examples and templates to help you draft plans, and you will be able to get feedback from the schools.
If appropriate, you might also decide to use other resources and tools in the experiment, such as the nQuire-it app, that allow students to turn their phones into easy to use sensors. Remember that the students will be on hand to provide feedback.
Could you measure noise levels? | Image: nQuire-it
What can I do with the £500?
You can use the £500 to support your work on the project in any way, for example covering travel and time expenses or buying software for analysis.
How do I collect the data from each school?
After June, the teachers will email you the data and analysis that the students have done at school. Your job will then be to collate and write up conclusions to share with everyone on the Enquiry Zone.
How good is the data collected?
- The quality of data will depend on what you choose to measure and how easy it is to get right.
- There is the potential for hundreds of school children to contribute data.
- Even poor data is an opportunity for the schools to think about what makes good data and how they could improve.
Could our results be published?
It’s important to remember that the main aim of the zone is for students to get experience of carrying out their own research. However, if the data collected is of good enough quality, why not publish? Sallie, the winner of Enquiry Zone 2017 has written a report and is awaiting publication.
What happens if I don’t win the Zone?
If you’re still keen to run the research project you’ve devised with students over the course of the zone, we will happily put you in contact with interested schools so you can explore ways of making it happen.
How do I apply again?
The Enquiry Zone is open to all scientists from any field, including those who’ve taken part in I’m a Scientist previously. Follow the appropriate link below for your situation:
I’ve applied before or ‘I’ve taken part in IAS previously: Go straight to this form and select Enquiry Zone when asked.
I haven’t applied for I’m a Scientist previously: Apply now at imascientist.org.uk/scientist-apply and choose ‘Enquiry Zone’ on the following form that you are emailed.