News

Increasing students’ confidence with I’m a Scientist

“Many of our students lack confidence in their academic ability so they were buzzing when they realised they can hold their own in a conversation with intelligent, educated people and this helped them realise they are all scientists too!” – Julia Anderson, FE College Biology Lecturer


This general further education college is split across 3 sites in a large, post-industrial, non-university town. Students at the college took part in the I’m a Scientist Immune System and Genes Zones in March 2018. Julia tells us how meaningful engagement with the scientists increased her students’ confidence. Continue reading

Posted on May 14, 2018 by modkatie in Case Study, Evaluation, News, School, Teachers, Widening Participation | Comments Off on Increasing students’ confidence with I’m a Scientist

Using I’m a Scientist to increase participation in higher education

“Traditionally, not many of our students go on to university. I’m a Scientist helps by allowing students to relate to scientists and helping them see the value of studying at a higher level.”

– Mark McNally, Science Teacher


A mixed 2-19 academy, where over two thirds of the school population are students from disadvantaged backgrounds, took part in I’m a Scientist in March 2018. Mark tells us how the activity helped interest his students in science careers and consider higher education.

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Posted on May 2, 2018 by modkatie in Case Study, Evaluation, News, Science Capital, Teachers, Widening Participation | Comments Off on Using I’m a Scientist to increase participation in higher education

Providing STEM opportunities for distant schools

Baltasound_Junior_High_School_in_the_snow_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1725784“As we are a remote rural community we do not have a huge variety of careers on our doorstep but these events help to bring them closer to pupils. More students should be getting these funded opportunities across the UK.”

– Emily Tulloch, Science teacher on the island of Unst.


The most northerly school in the UK is located in one of our most distant areas in the Shetland Isles. Emily tells us how I’m a Scientist allowed her remote students to explore a range of STEM careers and increased motivation to learn science. Continue reading

Posted on April 6, 2018 by modkatie in Case Study, Evaluation, News, Science Capital, Teachers, Widening Participation | Comments Off on Providing STEM opportunities for distant schools

“Dazzling, eye-opening and over far too quickly”- March 2018 Winners blog posts

After every event we ask the winning scientists to write a short post to be sent to all the students who took part in the zone. It’s the perfect way for the scientists to reflect on the previous two weeks, thank all the students for voting for them, and talk about how they plan to use their £500 prize money.

If you’re a scientist keen to experience the ‘best crash course in scicomm’, apply now for the next event at imascientist.org.uk/scientist-apply

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Posted on March 27, 2018 by in News | Comments Off on “Dazzling, eye-opening and over far too quickly”- March 2018 Winners blog posts

Working with I’m a Scientist to produce STEM engagement for your discipline


After psychologist Sam Smith took part in I’m a Scientist, we worked with him to secure funding from the British Psychological Society for 3 more zones. As a result, more than 1,100 students across the UK were able to connect with psychologists in 2017. Continue reading

Posted on March 22, 2018 by modantony in Case Study, Event News, News | Comments Off on Working with I’m a Scientist to produce STEM engagement for your discipline

Enquiry Zone 2018: What’s it all about?

This March, Enquiry Zone returns in I’m a ScientistThis 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.

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Posted on January 15, 2018 by modantony in News | Comments Off on Enquiry Zone 2018: What’s it all about?

Widening Participation School case study

In our experience, the longer it takes for a scientist or engineer to reach a school, the less likely those students are to have visits. We’ve done some research that suggests schools more than 30 minutes travel time are less likely to receive visits.

We also think looking at Widening Participation schools is useful to understand the variety of schools we have wanting to take part.

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Posted on December 15, 2017 by modnaomi in Case Study, News, Widening Participation | Comments Off on Widening Participation School case study

School engagement in STEM enrichment: Effect of school location

In recent years funders of public engagement and outreach activities have made a priority of reaching underserved audiences.

Wherever we looked we found anecdotal evidence that while, as a sector we were becoming increasingly effective at reaching schools in deprived parts of our metropolitan areas, rural communities continued to miss out.

But anecdotal data only gets you so far. We wanted to find out just how much the more remote schools were missing out. We also wanted to know what constitutes a remote school in this context. Continue reading

Posted on November 30, 2017 by modnaomi in Evaluation, News, Widening Participation | Comments Off on School engagement in STEM enrichment: Effect of school location

‘That was the most fun thing I’ve ever done in science’ – November 2017 Winners blog posts

After every event we ask the winning scientists to write a short post to be sent to all the students who took part in the zone. It’s the perfect way for the scientists to reflect on the previous two weeks, thank all the students for voting for them, and talk about how they plan to use their £500 prize money.

If you’re a scientist keen to experience the ‘best crash course in scicomm’, apply now for the next event, taking place 5th–16th March, at imascientist.org.uk/scientist-apply

Continue reading

Posted on November 24, 2017 by in News, Scientists | Comments Off on ‘That was the most fun thing I’ve ever done in science’ – November 2017 Winners blog posts

Enquiry Zone: Students as scientists

Some say there are no new ideas, just new interpretations of old ideas: primary school students designed the Blackawton Bees paper with the help of a parent scientist; citizen science runs online at scale with Galaxy Zoo; the BBC, with Terrific Scientific, help primary schools conduct their experiments. There is an idea missing in this panoply: School students helping to design and run a new experiment at scale. In March 2017 we ran the Wellcome funded Enquiry Zone, a zone created with one fundamental question: Could we use an I’m a Scientist zone to give hundreds of school students the chance to help design an experiment, which they could then carry out themselves? Yes, we could. And what’s more, it’s clear there is value in giving students input at all stages of the project. It gives students ownership over research, and they gain real insight into how science works. What happened … Continue reading

Posted on November 23, 2017 by Moderator - Josh in Case Study, News | Comments Off on Enquiry Zone: Students as scientists

Perspectives on Partnership

“The Gold Standard”; “Diamond Option”; “Go Platinum!” There is a continual pressure to strive for the biggest, best, most committed options in life. Sometimes, however, we should recognise that our organisations and partners might not want, or be ready for, the “Ultimate Mega-Package.” In the Public Engagement sector there is a consensus that the best engagement is: two-way upstream involving researchers and interested public in-depth considered includes knowledge transfer novel and innovative* NCCPE “Perspectives on Partnership” Tool It was a real pleasure at last week’s NCCPE organised SUPI review seminar to witness Sophie Duncan and Paul Manners reveal their Perspectives on Partnership (POP) Tool to help universities and schools assess what type of partnership they have and desire. The tool recognises four types of partnership: Spontaneous Inspired Thoughtful Strategic The participants are then asked to consider a partnership from each of four participants perspectives: Researchers Teachers Students Partnership brokers I … Continue reading

Posted on October 17, 2017 by ModShane in News | Comments Off on Perspectives on Partnership

Moderator Vacancy: November 2017

We’re looking for two moderators to work with us on our November 2017 events! The events will run from the 6th to the 17th November 2017; I’m a Scientist UK and Ireland, I’m an Engineer UK and I’m a Medic. First rule of moderator club… This is a paid, 10 day job. If you aren’t free from 8:30 – 4:30pm on all 10 days, please don’t apply. Your key responsibilities will be: Checking and approving questions Adding appropriate keywords Logging and keeping track of questions, comments and dialogue Checking the site for errors and inappropriate content and usernames Moderating live chats Helping to run the site It’s actually 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, am I right?! What we’d like from you.. You should be bright, thoughtful, pick stuff up easily, ideally with an interest … Continue reading

Posted on October 9, 2017 by modmichaela in Event News, News, Science Engagement | Comments Off on Moderator Vacancy: November 2017

Thinking about Science Capital

We’re thinking increasingly about Science Capital and how we apply it to our projects. It is a powerful concept that resonates strongly with what we aim to do and we want to make sure our projects make as much of a positive contribution to young people’s Science Capital as they can. We are looking for ways to evaluate in relation to Science Capital to show whether we are achieving this. What is Science Capital? If you’ve read the 2013 ASPIRES report you’ll be familiar with this striking graph showing that although nearly 80% of UK students value science, less than 20% aspire to be scientists. Why is this? Graph courtesy of ASPIRES/ASPIRES2: ucl.ac.uk/ioe/departments-centres/departments/education-practice-and-society/aspires Based on their research, the ASPIRES team have developed the concept of Science Capital; the combination of experiences, personal connections, knowledge and attitudes that contribute to how much a young person identifies as a “science person”. The … Continue reading

Posted on October 6, 2017 by modbecky in Evaluation, News, Science Capital | Comments Off on Thinking about Science Capital

How do students from different schools engage with IAS?

Thousands of school students meet scientists through I’m a Scientist every year, and they ask thousands of questions. In June 2017, over 3,000 students took part, asking scientists more than 2,500 questions in the ASK section alone. This is also the event that we implemented our question coding system across all the zones to see what students are asking about. This all got us thinking: Do students from different types of schools ask more or less of certain question types? We’ve identified two groups we want to look at: Under-served: Schools more than 30 minutes travel time from a major research HEI Widening Participation: Schools with an above average number of students eligible for free school meals Taking the questions from the I’m a Scientist zones in June 2017 it appears that: Overall, the split of questions is similar across all groups of students Under-served students ask more “science topics” … Continue reading

Posted on September 14, 2017 by modnaomi in Evaluation, News, Widening Participation | Comments Off on How do students from different schools engage with IAS?

“I’m a Scientist is great, but wouldn’t it be better if students could see and hear the scientists too?”

This is a question we get asked from time to time. Here we explain why we’re confident that text interaction remains the best format for effective, inclusive, online engagement: it makes students and scientists more comfortable, levels the playing field between adults and children, and makes the events accessible to a wider audience. Students are more familiar with text-based chats. There is growing evidence¹ that young people communicate most via text and less and less through phone or video and we’re hearing that anecdotally too. Feedback from teachers has pointed out that students are not only more familiar with a text format but also more comfortable with it. All parties feel more confident about not being visible. As an ex-teacher myself, the thought of making a class visible online to an unknown person via a webcam makes me uncomfortable. I’d also be concerned about scientists inadvertently displaying confidential or inappropriate material … Continue reading

Posted on August 4, 2017 by modkatie in Evaluation, IAS Event, News, Science Engagement | Comments Off on “I’m a Scientist is great, but wouldn’t it be better if students could see and hear the scientists too?”

What do students ASK about? [REDIRECT]

Our events generate huge amounts of interesting data, which we know contains all sorts of valuable insights. When there’s so much of it, it can take a while to work out how to make best use of it. One example of this is thematic analysis of the questions students post in ASK. Over the years of running the event we’ve developed a pretty good sense of the types of things students ask about and will always showcase great examples of questions. Converting that into a systematised, reportable analysis is more difficult, but can be done. So, we have developed a system for coding questions based on a set of themes that students often ask about, and after some trials in March, we’ve applied it to all zones in the June event (read the latest reports here). At their broadest level, most student questions fall into one of three areas: questions about the … Continue reading

Posted on July 17, 2017 by modbecky in Evaluation, News | 1 Comment

‘My spirit is uplifted’ – June 2017 Winners blog posts

After every event we ask the winning scientists to write a short post to be sent to all the students who took part in the zone. It’s the perfect way for the scientists to reflect on the previous two weeks, thank all the students for voting for them, and talk about how they plan to use their £500 prize money. If you’re a scientist keen to experience the ‘best crash course in scicomm’, apply now for the next event, taking place 6th–17th November, at imascientist.org.uk/scientist-apply   Sanjib Bhakta, Birkbeck University of London, Drug Resistance Zone I never believed live-chat could be so easy and often stress-busting! My special thanks to all the students for engaging constructively and asking brilliant questions all round. I am reassured that all your intensely inquisitive minds, love, passion and extended hands will make global health emergencies like drug resistance appear trivial and under control in the near … Continue reading

Posted on June 30, 2017 by modantony in News, Scientists | Comments Off on ‘My spirit is uplifted’ – June 2017 Winners blog posts

Partner with I’m a Scientist on Strategic Support to Expedite Embedding Public Engagement with Research

Research Councils UK have announced the Strategic Support to Expedite Embedding Public Engagement with Research (SEE-PER) programme. The aim is to help HEI’s and Research Institutes embed Public Engagement within their organisations and to address identified challenges stopping it being embedded. I’m a Scientist is offering to partner with an applicant or multiple applicants for SEE-PER to help address issues of: Supporting Public Engagement in Research Motivations for PER Making PER sustainable We have a strong track record in public engagement not just with the event itself, but in the follow-on activities carried out by all participants. One clear message that comes from participating scientists is that they want to do more Public Engagement and the evidence is that they do go on to do more engagement. We would like to work with HEI’s and Research Institutes to investigate why I’m a Scientist acts as a boost to researchers public … Continue reading

Posted on June 21, 2017 by ModShane in Project News | Comments Off on Partner with I’m a Scientist on Strategic Support to Expedite Embedding Public Engagement with Research