Category Archives: Winner Reports

What Matt Lee did with his prize money…

Matt was voted the winner of the Actinium Zone in June 2017. Here he writes about how he used his £500 prize money to produce a sci-art exhibition.

If you’d like the chance to win funding for your own public engagement work, apply for the next I’m a Scientist, Get me out of here: imascientist.org.uk/scientist-apply


My favourite thing about science is the creativity behind it. I try to explore this creativity in all of the public engagement and outreach work I do when talking about science. I used the £500 to put on an exhibition of science art in Bristol for 2 weeks in May 2018, Creative Reactions Bristol. We had 35 scientists and 35 artists work together to produce pieces of art that explored the scientists’ research. We had over 2,000 people explore the exhibition and talk to scientists and artists involved.

I am continuing with the science art exhibition and in 2019 we have 50 artists and 50 scientists taking part with an exhibition across two galleries for 30 days. We’ve got a load of school and adult workshops planned to get people involved in science in hands-on and creative ways, instead of just teaching people about science we are getting them to explore and be creative.

Without the I’m a Scientist funding I would not have been able to deliver as successful an exhibition in 2018 as we did. This success has enabled us to continue with the project, growing it and making it more engaging for all ages.

As well as organising the 2019 science art exhibition, I’m also developing a wheel of fortune that explores the concepts of risk so we can finally understand what it actually means when the media tells us that coffee/chocolate/milk/bacon/[insert food here] is killing us!

 

Posted on April 24, 2019 modjen in WellcomeWinner, Winner Reports | Comments Off on What Matt Lee did with his prize money…

What Liam Taylor did with his prize money…

Liam was voted the winner of the Sustainability Zone in November 2018. Here he writes about how he used his £500 prize money to develop a session for children and students to learn about climate change using VR headsets.

If you’d like the chance to win funding for your own public engagement work, apply for the next I’m a Scientist, Get me out of here: imascientist.org.uk/scientist-apply


I used the prize money to purchase virtual reality headsets to develop an outreach session with the University of Leeds. Whenever I taught the science or solutions of climate change, I was frequently told by children that they couldn’t visualise environments that are on the other side of the world, let alone how they are changing. So, I bought an array of Oculus headsets so that children can immerse themselves in coral reefs, stand on top of glaciers, or shake hands with great primates in the rainforests.

I have now developed a session – ‘The Reality of Climate Change’ – that will be taken on tour to classrooms, museums, and science events. Students will first visit environments in their natural, pristine state, before looking at the impacts that climate change is having on these ecosystems. Children so far have responded very positively, displaying a greater sense of empathy towards environmental change, and desire for climate action.

The I’m a Scientist experience taught me to be a better science communicator – and not just with children, but senior academics too. I was also so inspired by the curiosity and intelligence of everybody who asked a question. In my own work now, I try to ask as many questions as possible and explain things in the simplest ways.

Next up for the virtual reality session is to roll it out to as many children as possible! I’m still testing lots of ideas with different age groups to ensure the content is effective and relatable. Eventually, this will form part of the University of Leeds outreach programme, which reaches children from all backgrounds across West Yorkshire.

Posted on March 27, 2019 modjen in WellcomeWinner, Winner Reports | Comments Off on What Liam Taylor did with his prize money…

What Daniel Jolley did with his prize money…

Daniel was voted the winner of the Society Zone in June 2018. Here he writes about how he used his £500 prize money to collaborate with an artist to enhance his public engagement talks with cool cartoons, and created a YouTube animation about his work.

If you’d like the chance to win funding for your own public engagement work, apply for the next I’m a Scientist, Get me out of here: imascientist.org.uk/scientist-apply


Millions of people from across the globe believe in conspiracy theories – such as the idea that climate change is a hoax. Whilst conspiracy theories were once just seen as chatter, and of no concern, my research to date demonstrates that exposure to conspiracy theories may lead to important social and political consequences – such as being less likely to vaccinate a child.

During June’s 2018 Society Zone event, conspiracy theories were a hot topic of conversation. Using the prize money awarded, I wanted to continue the conservations and bring to life the psychology of conspiracy theories. To do so, with the £500 I commissioned More Than Minutes to draw my research into an engaging cartoon.

On the day the artwork was created, two artists watched me give a presentation where I talked about things like ‘what is a conspiracy theory?’, ‘why do people believe in conspiracy theories?’, and ‘what’s the harm?’. They then spent the afternoon drawing my research, which now sits above my desk in my office! However, this is not the end of the story!

I want to ensure the artwork is used for public engagement. I have embedded the artwork into my public talks on the psychology of conspiracy theories, whilst developing a lesson plan around the topic area for school children. I have turned the artwork into A5 postcards that I print for attendees at my public talks and children who attend my school sessions on conspiracy theories. For those who are unable to attend a talk or a lesson delivered by myself, I have turned the artwork into an animation that is uploaded to YouTube. The video includes a short 5-minute narration.

At the time of writing, I have given 3 public talks and the session has been delivered to three sets of school children – approximately 150 people have been given postcards so far.  The YouTube video has been watched just shy of 400 times. If you would like a copy of the artwork, you can download one from my website.  You can also always get in touch with me if you would like some postcards sending to you.

Posted on March 20, 2019 modjen in BPSWinner, Winner Reports | Comments Off on What Daniel Jolley did with his prize money…

What Stephanie Mann did with her prize money…

Stephanie was voted the winner of the Climate Zone in March 2018. Here she writes about how she has used her £500 prize money to buy filming equipment and software to start up a science YouTube channel.

If you’d like the chance to win funding for your own public engagement work, apply for the next I’m a Scientist, Get me out of here: imascientist.org.uk/scientist-apply


I have started a YouTube channel called Science with Steph. I have been a consumer of online video for a long time and know a few small creators, and so I decided to take the plunge and start a channel myself! It has been hard work (growing a channel from scratch these days can be very slow going), but very enjoyable. I have learnt many skills such as producing, editing and filming videos. I have also learned how to talk about quite tricky subjects in a simple way.

YouTube is a great platform as it’s the world’s second biggest search engine. Having said that it can be quite hard to have your voice heard (there are 500 hours of content uploaded every minute on YouTube). I hope my small channel will improve the platform as a place of learning and where people can improve their scientific understanding.

I spent £180 on a second hand camera, £250 on a microphone, and £70 on accessories like a tripod, lapel mics, and editing software. I have been making videos every week (with a break of 2 months when I moved house) and so far I have over 4500 views, 200 subscribers and nearly 150 hours of watch time on my channel! I hope to use my connections in the Stem Ambassadors network and also other educational content creators to grow my channel and increase the impact I have.

Posted on March 6, 2019 modjen in WellcomeWinner, Winner Reports | Comments Off on What Stephanie Mann did with her prize money…

What Sophie Williams did with her prize money…

Sophie was voted the winner of the Americium Zone in March 2018. Here she writes about how her £500 prize money is being used to make materials such as 3D fossils to teach children about palaeontology.

If you’d like the chance to win funding for your own public engagement work, apply for the next I’m a Scientist, Get me out of here: imascientist.org.uk/scientist-apply


I decided to donate the money to the Scarborough Museums Trust, specifically to the Rotunda Museum who run both free and paid science workshops for primary and secondary school children. I wanted to donate to the museum because they are a small establishment who do not receive the same sort of funding as some of the larger museums. Furthermore, it is also the local museum in the town in which I grew up, so I thought it would be nice to give something back to the school communities in that area.

The money donated went towards funding 3D-printed fossils for them to use in their science (palaeontology) workshops so that some of the rarer and more valuable fossils that the children might not otherwise be allowed to handle could be used risk-free. Some examples of the fossils that have been 3-D printed include walrus and crocodile skulls. The project is only in the very beginning stages, but some of the fossils have been 3D-printed and more will be constructed over the next few months and years. Some scans of some of the museum’s most popular objects can be seen here: https://sketchfab.com/jim.middleton.

The I’m a Scientist experience was really fun. I learnt quite a lot about, not only my own knowledge, but that of the children over the two weeks. I learnt that they are really interested in black holes and climate change! Many of the children had really interesting and quite thought-provoking questions, some of which I did not know the answer to!

The prize money will help to fund the use of the 3D fossils in the workshop which I hope will continue to inspire future generations of children to get into the study of Earth Science, and keep them thinking about how the world around us is constantly changing in response to changing climates and environments.

Since the I’m a Scientist experience, I have given a talk in a sixth form in Yorkshire about my own research in Australia looking at the effect of Greenland ice melt on sea level in the 19th and 20th century and am hoping to get involved with soapbox science in June.

 

Posted on February 27, 2019 modjen in WellcomeWinner, Winner Reports | Comments Off on What Sophie Williams did with her prize money…

What Steve Street did with his prize money

Steve was voted the winner of the Drug Discovery Zone in November 2016. Here he writes about using his £500 prize money to create a website that helps students understand the links between school subjects and future career opportunities.

If you’d like the chance to win funding for your own public engagement work, apply for the next I’m a Scientist, Get me out of here: imascientist.org.uk/scientist-apply


My plan for the £500 prize money was to develop a careers website for secondary school students, who are making decisions about what subjects to study. This might be KS3 subjects in year 9, GCSE subjects in year 10, A-level subjects in year 12, or undergraduate degree subjects in year 13.

The website is based on real people, real careers and real research, and will be organised by school subject. Students will be able to log on and discover a wealth of potential career and research options covering all walks of life, all organised by the most relevant subject/s to the career, and based on real people, who made real decisions. Not only do students learn about what types of careers and what types of research subjects such as chemistry can lead to, they can also compare them to other subjects (such as physics for example), allowing them to make informed decisions about their future. Once they have found a subject and/or person they are interested in, they can examine that person’s profile in greater detail to see what subjects they studied at school, and get advice on how to follow in their footsteps!

The project is called FuturebySubject, and the website is now live in a basic form at www.futurebysubject.co.uk. I have many plans for future updates, and the prize money allows me to fund the website for at least the next 5 years – so this is definitely a project that will evolve! I am always looking for more contributors, so please check out the website and get in touch to submit your profile. It only takes 10 mins!

Posted on February 6, 2019 modjen in RSCWinner, Winner Reports | Comments Off on What Steve Street did with his prize money

What Elliot Jokl did with his prize money

Elliot was voted the winner of the Bismuth Zone in June 2016. Here he writes about using the £500 prize money to bring students from across Yorkshire to carry out DNA analysis in labs at the University of York. 

If you’d like the chance to win funding for your own public engagement work, apply for the next I’m a Scientist, Get me out of here: imascientist.org.uk/scientist-apply


We used the money to purchase consumables (DNA, reagents, disposable tips etc.) to allow groups of pupils from schools in North, West and East Yorkshire to spend a day at the University of York carrying out DNA fingerprinting. Pupils were presented with a sample of DNA from a “Crime Scene” and asked to match this sample to one of 5 suspects. The money allowed over 200 pupils the chance to experience carrying out practical work that they would not have otherwise been able to do in school as well as promoting bioscience as a career option. The activity was supported by the biology department at the University of York, who provided laboratory space and staff to run the events.

 

Posted on February 6, 2019 modjen in WellcomeWinner, Winner Reports | Comments Off on What Elliot Jokl did with his prize money

What Senga Robertson did with her prize money…

Senga was voted the winner of the Plutonium Zone in November 2017. She used her prize money to hold an activity day for school children at the University of Dundee, which you can read more about below.

If you’d like the chance to win funding for your own public engagement work, apply for the next I’m a Scientist, Get me out of here: imascientist.org.uk/scientist-apply


With the prize money I invited 120 children from areas near Dundee University an event called “Cell-ebration of Science”. Many divisions from the School of life sciences came together (Molecular Microbiology, Forensic Anthropology, Plant Science, Protein Phosphorylation to name just a few) to deliver a broad range of activities that ranged from messy fun to coding to ensure that all learning styles were accommodated for. There were things like learning about the bacteria that live in your tummy by making fake poo, badge making, making your genes jump and so much more. There were also drama workshops held that addressed scientific topics and questions in a very fun way, these proved to be a huge hit and it was great to have something a little different for the participants to do.

The activities were well established and all resources were available so there was no expense involved with delivering them, this meant that the prize money from IASUK plus generous additional funding from the University of Dundee outreach fund I could cover the full cost of transport for the participating schools and also provide a pizza lunch as a treat for everyone.

It was very important to me to ensure that this event came with no expense at all to the schools or carers of children – some schools do not have the funds to cover transport costs and parents may not be in a position to subsidise these. There can also be a huge stigma with packed lunches, particularly the ones that come for those that receive free school meals. I didn’t want anyone to be, or feel left out.

Feedback from the event was very positive, particularly regarding the diversity of activities available and I’m very grateful I had the opportunity to deliver such a successful event. I got so much from just being involved. One of the big things was that by chatting online to so many learners they all really helped me to think about my research and the way I do it, that’s helped me so much in my job! It also helped me to pick activities to do at the event because I learned about what they found interesting and things they wanted to learn about.

Posted on January 30, 2019 modjen in WellcomeWinner, Winner Reports | Comments Off on What Senga Robertson did with her prize money…

What Sanjib Bhakta did with his prize money

Sanjib was voted the winner of the Drug Resistance Zone in November 2017. Here he writes about using his £500 prize money to involve local school students in a research project.

If you’d like the chance to win funding for your own public engagement work, apply for the next I’m a Scientist, Get me out of here: imascientist.org.uk/scientist-apply


The main purpose of this public engagement activity was to inspire and stimulate a young generation of future scientists locally as well as to engage and enhance public awareness of antibiotic resistance and superbugs.

I first created a link with St Francis Xavier 6th form College through their Biology teacher-in-charge, Ms Nimerta Virdee who was also a part-time MSc Microbiology student at Birkbeck. As a number of the young students at this college are from non-traditional and low socio-economic backgrounds, the school-based science project has helped to raise their aspirations, motivation and confidence to follow a career in science.

The science project began with a public talk to A level and BTEC Science students and their teachers debating on Antibiotic Resistance and the dangers of Superbugs. The talk focused on tuberculosis (TB) and the rise of this deadly infection in London and across the world.

Impressed by the enthusiasm and critical thinking of the SFX students, I invited a group of students to collaborate with Birkbeck, University of London on a research project to investigate the repurposing of painkiller drugs as new antibiotics to treat resistant strains of the germ that causes TB. This research avenue could provide and quick and low-cost source of medicines to be used to treat resistant forms of TB.

In total, we had three long lab practical and skills training sessions. £405 was spent on growth media & culture suppliments, antibiotics, chemicals and disposible plastic wares for the students to conduct their experiments, and the rest on travel expenses for the students to and from the university.

With the help of a PhD student from my lab and their biology teacher the students were able to record their observed results and interpreted them meaningfully. On successful completion of this science project the students visited Birkbeck, University of London to present their findings and showcase their research during the university’s BSc Biomedicine and Biological Sciences taster event. In addition, the students shared their knowledge and research project findings to members of public in a School Open Day.

Posted on January 16, 2019 modjen in WellcomeWinner, Winner Reports | Comments Off on What Sanjib Bhakta did with his prize money

What Chris Whittle did with his prize money…

Chris was voted the winner of the Reproduction Zone in 2013.

I wanted to provide some resources for my local school as there were hardly any scientific books in the library (which weren’t textbooks). We had a little unveiling ceremony and the librarian was thrilled with the new materials. I did choose most of the books myself but I did get a little bit of help from her as I was concerned I would pick the wrong ones!

I hope the books help future students engage with science and show that science is not only be a career but also fun, interesting and important to understand. The kids all seem to have loved the new books and I think in general it was a safe investment!

If you’d like the chance to win funding for your own science engagement, apply for the next I’m a Scientist, Get me out of here: imascientist.org.uk/scientist-apply

Posted on January 9, 2019 modantony in WellcomeWinner, Winner Reports | Comments Off on What Chris Whittle did with his prize money…

What Matt Bilton did with his prize money

Matt was voted the winner of the Antibiotics Zone in November 2014. Here he writes about using his £500 prize money to engage people with some important science research in a tasty and pun-filled way!

If you’d like the chance to win funding for your own public engagement work, apply for the next I’m a Scientist, Get me out of here: imascientist.org.uk/scientist-apply


The £500 went on cupcakes (312) handpiped and made to order from a local bakery + delivery. Members of the public were handed cupcakes with ‘TB or not TB??’ piped on them with icing. 2/3 of the cupcakes in each batch were one flavour and 1/3 were another (i.e. one batch was 2/3 chocolate, 1/3 chocolate chilli, and another was 2/3 raspberry, 1/3 lemon). People had to try and diagnose the cupcakes first by looking at them, and then by tasting them.

This project took place at another larger science communication event, and as well as handing cupcakes out individually I gave short 5 minute presentations to small audiences over the course of two days to explain the purpose and message behind the cupcakes. The message was that TB remains an important global health problem with lots of people (~1/3 of the world’s population) carrying the bug despite the vast majority being otherwise healthy (and appearing the same), and the necessity of diagnostic tests to probe beneath the surface to find people who can be targeted with treatment! As a means to engaging an audience and communicating an important area of research the project went well, and as expected the delicious cupcakes were very popular!

Posted on October 25, 2018 modjen in EbugWinner, Winner Reports | Comments Off on What Matt Bilton did with his prize money

What Sam Carr did with his prize money

Sam was voted the winner of the Relationships Zone in June 2017. Here he talks about using his prize money to bring together a group of people ages 85 and over to talk about his research.

If you’d like the chance to win funding for your own public engagement work, apply for the next I’m a Scientist, Get me out of here: imascientist.org.uk/scientist-apply


The money was incredibly helpful in funding a day, in Bristol, of discussion and debate with a group of 12 older people (aged 85-99) that enabled us to listen to, better understand, and explore how old people look back over the course of their lives, how they reflect upon the close relationships they have, and the various sorts of challenges and issues this creates for them.

We hoped this day would enable us to listen to older people’s reflections on the lives they’ve lived and the relationships they’ve had, and the ways in which they cope with and make peace with unresolved regrets and pain. The old people took part in two focus groups where they were basically telling us their stories and their lives and we paid for their transport, refreshments, and meals for the day.

We hope that by engaging with these older people in this sort of outreach activity, we will be able to launch further investigations and research that are better able to support older people’s inner lives – which is something that is often neglected – and they will have been active participants in the process.

Posted on October 25, 2018 modjen in BPSWinner, Winner Reports | Comments Off on What Sam Carr did with his prize money

What Liz Buckingham-Jeffery did with her prize money…

Liz was voted the winner of the Epidemic Zone in June 2017. Here she writes about using the £500 prize money to hold an event at her university to engage students with mathematics research and careers, and to develop a worksheet and interactive web-app.

If you’d like the chance to win funding for your own public engagement work, apply for the next I’m a Scientist, Get me out of here: imascientist.org.uk/scientist-apply


The majority of my prize money was used to fund an outreach event I helped develop, organise, and run on the 29th June 2018 at my workplace (the School of Mathematics at the University of Manchester).

The event was created for female year 12 school children with the aim of inspiring them to pursue maths at university and find out more about research as a career. In order to provide accessible role-models for the attendees, all of the organisers, speakers, and workshop leaders were women working in research mathematics; women are under-represented in mathematics jobs and particularly in academic research positions in maths.

The day consisted of three talks and a selection of interactive workshops. My personal favourite talk was about female mathematicians throughout history. This was a great chance to give some airtime to lesser known female mathematicians who made great contributions despite often being faced with rather challenging circumstances.

The impact of this was perfectly summarised in feedback written by one of the attending students who said “hearing about women who have achieved something in worse conditions than we have nowadays has inspired me to handle being in a male dominated job”.

Try the SIR model app for yourself and make virtual people ill

As well as organising the day, I designed and ran a workshop on my research area of mathematical modelling of infectious diseases. I made a worksheet and interactive web-app for the students to use in order to gain an understanding of the SIR model: one of the most frequently used models in my research area.

My experiences on I’m a Scientist certainly helped me think about how to best describe my work to school students. I also got advice from friends who are secondary school teachers to ensure the material was at the correct level.

The feedback from both the students and their teachers about the event was very positive. A lot of the students found the day interesting and fun. I hope to make this an annual event, and we will build on constructive criticism given in the feedback, for example by letting students decide which workshops to attend in advance of the day and aiming it at year 10 students who are more likely to have not yet made decisions about university.

Designing and creating this web-app and worksheet required quite a large time commitment; in my experience as an academic doing outreach we are “funding rich” but “time poor”. Therefore, I aim to use these resources at further outreach events this year to make the most of the time I have invested.

Most of the spending was related to the Women in Research mathematics event described above, which also had funding from additional sources for lunch and the travel costs of speakers from beyond Manchester. Some of the prize money was also used to cover the travel costs of two speakers to the Databeers Warwick event held on 30th November 2017. I anticipate using the last bit of the prize money to fund my travel to future outreach events where I use my worksheet and web-app.

Posted on September 12, 2018 modjen in WellcomeWinner, Winner Reports | Comments Off on What Liz Buckingham-Jeffery did with her prize money…

What Simon Holyoake did with his prize money…

Simon won the Earth Zone in 2013. Here’s what he did with his £500 prize money…

I’ve donated the prize money to two causes. Based on how far behind I’ve gotten with work and everything, I felt it was easier to donate the full £500 prize money to some good causes that will actually get stuff done, so I’ve donated £200 to the charity Engineers Without Borders UK who help with all kinds of awesome projects around the world, bringing sanitation and power and inspiration to poor communities globally, as well as running outreach session for schools in the UK.

I donated the remaining money to the London Science Museum in the hope that they will continue to inspire and educate the next generation of scientists and engineers. From my own experience, it was visiting museums and science exhibits as a child that got me hooked on wanting to better understand the world through science, I hope this view is shared by lots of other kids, we need scientists and engineers now more than ever!

For the chance to win funding for your own public engagement work, apply for the next I’m a Scientist, Get me out of here: imascientist.org.uk/scientist-apply

Posted on August 29, 2018 modantony in IOPWinner, Winner Reports | Comments Off on What Simon Holyoake did with his prize money…

What Duncan McNicholl did with his prize money…

Duncan was voted the winner of the Uranium Zone in November 2017. Here he reports on using the £500 prize money to fund a new podcast about medical research, Not Exactly Rocket Science.

If you’d like the chance to win funding for your own public engagement work, apply for the next I’m a Scientist, Get me out of here: imascientist.org.uk/scientist-apply


Winning I’m a Scientist came with two immediate thoughts: “great, I won!”, and “oh no, now I have to make a podcast and I have no idea how to do that!”. I did some research and spent the money on recording equipment, hosting, and a cool domain name (notexactlyrocketscience.fm), then started to charm researchers into being interviewed for it.

The fan favourite ‘Best host impression of the thinking face emoji’ competition takes up the first 20 minutes of each episode.

It was pretty exciting when the first episode went live on the 1st of June, and it’s been really fun to learn so much about what people who work in my building are actually researching, and how that research gets done. Listen to all the episodes so far here.

As well as the podcast, I’ve been involved for about a year in another project called Circuits!, in which we’ve co-created teaching materials so that high school teachers can use our research to enthuse kids about science while they’re learning about light and sound.

I’m hoping to create a bit of a mashup at some point with an episode of the podcast all about Circuits!, answering questions from students who have used the tool. My experience in I’m a Scientist should be invaluable there.

Posted on August 15, 2018 modantony in WellcomeWinner, Winner Reports | Comments Off on What Duncan McNicholl did with his prize money…

What Laura Soul did with her prize money

Laura was voted the winner of the Rhodium Zone in March 2013.

If you’d like the chance to win funding for your own public engagement work, apply for the next I’m a Scientist, Get me out of here: imascientist.org.uk/scientist-apply


I set up a website (Generate Science) for school students to post blogs about current science topics and developed resources to help train the students. I was unable to find teachers who felt they had the time available to be the test classes for the platform, and then I moved to the US for a postdoc position. I still hope to eventually work on getting the website running when I return to the UK, by focusing on a local school so that I can run training in person for the first trials. As this did not go as expected, I decided to donate the remaining half of my prize money to an organisation I knew would immediately be able to make good use of it for outreach purposes, and so in 2016 I donated £250 to the Cambridge Earth Sciences Museum Time Truck team.

Posted on August 1, 2018 modjen in WellcomeWinner, Winner Reports | Comments Off on What Laura Soul did with her prize money

What Dawn Lau did with her prize money

Dawn was voted the winner of the Thallium Zone in June 2016. Here she writes about using her £500 prize money to fund local community events called Fun Palaces at which she has run activities based around neuroscience.

If you’d like the chance to win funding for your own public engagement work, apply for the next I’m a Scientist, Get me out of here: imascientist.org.uk/scientist-apply


My original plan was to create a webcomic about being a scientist, trying in particular to focus on being a woman of ethnic minority. I’d drawn up draft comics, scribbled ideas into a notebook, but I never got the time to actually finalise the comic or build the website. I decided to donate the money to Fun Palaces, which is an annual event popping up at several locations in the UK. A Fun Palace is held by the community, for the community. It should be free, local, inclusive, and an opportunity to create a mishmash of arts and science (and much more). £500 went straight to Fun Palaces which will help fund running workshops, travel, support for local Fun Palace groups, etc.

I’ve been involved in running activities at the Brockwell Lido Fun Palace for 3 years in a row from 2014, and it’s been a blast being able to learn from the experience each year. The first year, we created a big brain on a board and invited the community to write memories into the brain and many people were really excited to find out we were actually neuroscientists.

Since then we’ve also run activities like dye chromatography and making brain models and all of these have piqued interest from the community asking about what we do, what our research is on – which was great!

Since I’m a Scientist, I was also involved in running a public engagement event at the Science Museum, with Alzheimer’s Research UK in March 2018. We ran many activities for both children and adults, such as making a neuron, memory games, showed them slides of real human brain tissue, and a lab skills station where participants could try and dissect brains (actually fruit!) and practise pipetting and changing cell media.

Posted on August 1, 2018 modjen in WellcomeWinner, Winner Reports | Comments Off on What Dawn Lau did with her prize money

What Jonny Hunter and Laura Finney did with their prize money…

Jonny was voted the winner of Antibiotics Zone in June 2016. Here he reports back on how he used his £500 prize money to support his outreach activities with fellow winner Laura from Catalysis Zone.

If you’d like the chance to win funding to develop your science outreach work, apply for I’m a Scientist at imascientist.org.uk/scientist-apply


I won my I’m a Scientist zone at the same time as another scientist from my centre (Laura Finney) and we decided to pool our money. After a number of discussions, we decided to stay close to home with our main activity. So, we ran a stall at “Science in the Park 2017” based at Wollaton Hall in Nottingham.

This was a free public event that brought together scientists from many different fields so they could engage with the general public and tell them why our research is so fantastic. As our common research topic covers photochemistry we decided to tell people about light. To this end, we devised a series of experiments that showed how light can be used to carry out chemistry. We even made a video about it and posted on The Conversation UK’s website (Laura used to work there)! Watch the video here: https://www.facebook.com/ConversationUK/videos/730334860468190/?hc_ref=ARRSrkcYdKNfRsga9rWbo85te2QGFSUSb4DPuErPPdkNMM0B5fRTiQGgg3Jn3t1A3rU)

We show you some cool chemistry tricks you can do with chemicals you probably have at home … all right in front of the Batman castle in Nottingham.

Gepostet von The Conversation UK am Samstag, 18. März 2017

Since then, the equipment we bought with the I’m a Scientist money has been used at a number of different events such as Pint of Science 2017 and Wonder.

Sir Martyn Poliakoff (of Periodic Videos) using the equipment in a public lecture at Wonder

I have not been idle either. Since I’m a Scientist, I have competed in FameLab 2017 – reaching the regional finals by talking about the science behind poo. More recently, I won 3rd prize for my Art in Science competition submission.

This. Photochemistry. Is an Art Attack.

I think that I’m a Scientist has benefited me greatly as gave me the unique opportunity to develop my communication skills online which have been very useful in my following endeavours. I am extremely grateful to the I’m a Scientist team for organising the event and to everyone who voted for me. I would recommend it to anyone in research – and have!

Posted on July 18, 2018 modantony in RSCWinner, Winner Reports | Comments Off on What Jonny Hunter and Laura Finney did with their prize money…

What Alex Pool did with his prize money…

Alex was voted the winner of the Europium Zone in November 2014. Here he writes about donating his £500 prize money to the Barts Cancer Institute to train aspiring research scientists.

If you’d like the chance to win funding for your own public engagement work, apply for the next I’m a Scientist, Get me out of here: imascientist.org.uk/scientist-apply


When I first entered I’m a Scientist I had already decided, if I won, that I would donate the money to the Barts Cancer Institute Science Training for Aspriring Research Scientists (BCI STARS). The STARS project is a scheme that everyone here at BCI is very proud of, and I wanted to do my small bit in supporting that. Having been asked by a lot of the children during the competition what I was planning to do with the money they all thought the scheme was brilliant and wished they had their own local version.

 From John Marshall – head of STARS programme the money was donated to…

BCI STARS- A programme to introduce school students to scientific research and to train PhD students in science communication.

In 2014, a group of Year 13 students from schools that historically had had relatively poor progression to university for their students, joined PhD students at Barts Cancer Institute, part of Queen Mary University of London, for the first Science Training for Aspiring Research Scientists (STARS) programme.  In small groups the students had a full-time one week tuition in basic cell and molecular biology techniques taught to them by PhD students. Thus students learned:

  • How to correctly use micro-pipettes and automatic pipette guns
  • Sterile tissue culture of cancer cells
  • Biochemical analysis of cancer cells using SDS-PAGE and western blotting
  • How to label biomarkers in cancer tissue using immunochemistry and analysis by microscopy
  • How to purify, analyse and clone DNA
  • How to run polymerase chain reactions (PCRs) of cheek cell DNA

Photo: BCI STARS

In addition the PhD students learned the type of language that is required to describe the scientific bases of techniques they use on a daily basis. The programme does cost money and for the first year we could not find any funding.  Thus I was thrilled when one of BCI’s PhD student’s, Alex Rhys, donated his £500 prize that he had won from I’m a Scientist, get me out of here which helped enormously to cover costs.

The experience of both the students and the PhD demonstrators (now referred to as DEMONS) was extremely positive and encouraged the continuation of the programme which now has had two dozen Year 12 students in both 2015 and 2016 and about 35 different PhD students participating. All the school students are identified by the charity ACCESS Work Placements who work directly with schools to give students a real work experience. A very exciting development is that two new STARS programmes, the Blizard STARS (also at Queen Mary University, run by Dr Cleo Bishop) and King’s STARS (at Kings College London, run by Professor Maddy Parsons) started in 2016 also with great success and we are keen for other institutions to develop their own STARS programmes. Thus Alex’s initial generous gift has helped make this happen and I remain extremely grateful to him for his generosity.

Photo: BCI STARS

All of those students from our first cohort who replied to our enquiries entered their first choice university. The courses included medicine, dentistry, physics, biomedical sciences and mining. STARS was a subject of discussion at the university interviews so we hope their experience helped in their success. Below are comments from several students taken directly from their feedback forms.  More information and photographs of our STARS programme can be found here. Contact me if you are interested in starting a programme at your university.

Students’ feedback on their experience of STARS

“ I hoped to gain more information on research science and also learn one of the basic skills needed to carry out the experiments, and this course has covered every expectation I had before starting”

“Speaking to the PhD students was really useful-treated me like an equal which helped me gain knowledge and confidence”

“I’ve thought research science was boring but after the programme I started to like research science as you get to work on your own projects and be independent and I’ve got to know that I actually like working in (a) laboratory”

“It made me realize that I can go to any university I like and I can do the course that I want to do”

“Whiteboard explanation sessions were really good and gave a sort of “school explanation”- a format we are used to and helped in understanding more”

 “Do you have any feedback on the teaching approaches used?” “Continue! Enjoyed every bit of it. I wish I could join again. Thank you.”

Posted on July 11, 2018 in WellcomeWinner, Winner Reports | Comments Off on What Alex Pool did with his prize money…

What Dave Farmer did with his prize money…

Dave was voted the winner of the Quantum Zone in June 2013. If you’d like the chance to win funding for your own public engagement work, apply for the next I’m a Scientist, Get me out of here: imascientist.org.uk/scientist-apply

I spent all of my prize money on video equipment. My original plan was to make a series of science communication videos, but unfortunately I came up against some obstacles and wasn’t able to make them happen.

So the equipment was used to film live public shows I put on, including a show at the NSEW Science in the Park event in March 2014. These videos have been distributed online. You can see the finale of one of them below.

Since winning I’m a Scientist, I worked as a Physics Outreach Officer at Royal Holloway University for two years, and even managed to get some of my academics to sign up for the event!

Posted on July 4, 2018 in IOPWinner, Winner Reports | Comments Off on What Dave Farmer did with his prize money…