The CHRISTMAS LECTURES Zone of I’m a Scientist was commissioned by The Royal Institution with support from Lloyd’s Register Foundation. The online event allowed school students, the viewing public and Lecture attendees to continue the conversation about the Royal Institution’s CHRISTMAS LECTURES, ‘The Language of Life’ and its theme of communication. The Royal Institution wanted to create a focus for the online discussion and during the planning stages, the topic of Privacy was identified as a pertinent topic within the wider theme of communication. A Privacy Debate Kit was also developed and sent to teachers participating in the zone to use as part of this activity. The Kit structures a class debate around the question “Should mobile phones be always listening?”
The 18 experts online included the 2017 Christmas Lecturer, Professor Sophie Scott, along with others from the CHRISTMAS LECTURES team and other communication and privacy experts. Sophie’s presence on the site was great, answering 42 questions in ASK across the four weeks. Attendees at the filming of the Lectures could submit written questions to the site using question cards and have answers from experts emailed to them. A total of 18 audience members submitted questions using these cards. Overall the Zone was focused around the themes of privacy and communication, the Lectures themselves and the work of each expert. A number of classes had taken part in a privacy debate before their live chat which was evident from the privacy-related questions posed to the experts. The school students taking part were on topic in live chats with experts and in the ASK section.
School uptake for this event was much higher than the previous year with 898 registered school users from 36 schools in 2017-18. 11 of those schools were under-served (distant), 7 were widening participation and 3 were outside the UK.