The Institute of Physics (IOP) has been funding zones in I’m a Scientist events since March 2011. Within two years it has funded three Space Zones, two Quantum Zones and a Laser Zone, Earth Zone and Medical Physics Zone.
Why IOP funds us
Taj Bhutta, IOP Careers and Student Officer, explains why IOP continues to support I’m a Scientist:
It’s a new way of reaching students who are making that all important decision about what to study at A-level or university. Although traditional careers fairs and outreach activities work well at local level, I’m a Scientist has things going for it that make it an attractive proposition; it works across the UK, we have a reasonable guarantee that the scientists involved will be good communicators and we can target specific groups of students in order to widen participation.
This year we are giving priority to students from the 400+ partner schools of the Stimulating Physics Network (SPN). The SPN is a project funded by the Department for Education and managed by the IOP to increase the uptake of A-level physics, and each SPN Partner School has committed to this objective, working with a dedicated Teaching and Learning Coach to develop pupils’ experience of physics. Another advantage of online engagement is that the data, in terms of number of students engaged, is readily available and so we can have a real measure of impact.”
Broad range of scientists and topics
To date, 40 IOP-funded zone scientists have given over 5,500 answers in response to over 3,500 questions asked by nearly 3,000 students, covering everything from the future of space travel to a career in medical physics. Thanks to the IOP’s funding we’ve been able to run over 100 live chats, giving students the opportunity to chat to scientists from a whole range of different backgrounds.
We’ve had a nuclear physicist, palaeoclimatologist, computer scientist, analytical geochemist, astronomer, seismologist, radiotherapy physicist, astrophysicist and many other types of scientist taking part. Questions have ranged from the scientific and career-minded to the personal and philosophical, including what do you think the biggest mystery about space is?, what precautions do you use while experimenting with radioactive substances? and is it possible to have an anti-photon?
IOP-funded zones to date
March 2011 – Space Zone
June 2011 – Quantum Zone
We hope to continue working with IOP to engage more students with physics and science generally. We’re always looking for new funding partners to extend the range of science topics covered by our zones, so if you think your organisation would benefit from connecting scientists directly with students all over the country, please do get in touch: email email@example.com or phone 01225 326892.