Category Archives: Case Study

I’m a Scientist and RCUK

logoResearch Councils UK (RCUK) first funded an I’m a Scientist zone in June 2011 when its Lifelong Health and Wellbeing programme supported the Healthy Ageing Zone. In March 2012 the RCUK Energy programme funded the Energy Zone, and in March 2013 the RCUK Digital Economy programme supported the Digital Zone.

Why RCUK funds us

Ruth Williams, Senior Policy Manager for Public Engagement with Research at RCUK, explains why RCUK chooses to continue funding zones in I’m a Scientist:

RCUK has provided funding for I’m a Scientist in order to provide RCUK researchers with a platform to engage young people in their research and develop transferrable skills such as communication. A key aim for RCUK is to encourage engagement between young people and researchers to inspire, enthuse and motivate the next generation of researchers and enable more young people to act as informed citizens. I’m a Scientist gives young people a flavour of life as a researcher and engages them with some of the cutting-edge research funded by RCUK in areas such as healthy ageing, energy, digital economy, space and food science.”

Inspiring the next generation

From DNA damage in the Healthy Ageing Zone to computer games in the Digital Zone, image by Fæ for Wikimedia

Gaming questions were popular in the Digital Zone, while DNA damage was a hot topic in the Healthy Ageing Zone, image by Fæ for Wikimedia

A zone a year since 2011 means that RCUK funding has so far brought 15 scientists together with well over 600 students. The scientists, including a statistical geneticist, professor of organic chemistry, digital research engineer and senior lecturer in computer science, to name but a few, have given in excess of 1,400 answers to over 1,000 student questions.

Specific topics covered include the effects of video games on social skills, the generation of energy using nuclear fusion, and the science of ageing diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Personal questions to the scientists and a whole range of broader science questions on everything from animals to space have allowed students to discover just what it means to be a scientist. 

RCUK-funded zones to date

June 2011 – Healthy Ageing Zone

March 2012 – Energy Zone (evaluation)

March 2013 – Digital Zone (evaluation)

Future funding

We hope to continue working with RCUK to inspire the next generation of scientists and to inform future citizens. If bringing students and scientists together is something that could benefit your organisation, please get in contact with us: email or phone 01225 326892.

Posted on May 8, 2013 in Case Study | Comments Off on I’m a Scientist and RCUK

I’m a Scientist and IOP

IOPThe 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

From Earth to space, particles to planets and technology to healthcare, IOP-funded zones have covered it all! Image by Werieth for Wikimedia

From Earth to space, particles to planets and technology to healthcare, IOP-funded zones have covered it all! Image by Werieth for Wikimedia

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

March 2012 – Space Zone (evaluation) and Quantum Zone (evaluation)

June 2012 – Laser Zone (evaluation) and Earth Zone (evaluation)

March 2013 – Space Zone (evaluation) and Medical Physics Zone (evaluation)

Future funding

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 or phone 01225 326892.

Posted on April 10, 2013 in Case Study | Comments Off on I’m a Scientist and IOP