Zarah was voted the winner of the Plants Zone in November 2016. Here she writes about using her £500 prize money to run a Science Fair in the University of Stirling.
If you’d like 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 I’m a Scientist competition was a fantastic experience. Talking to the students enabled me to gain a better perspective on how young adults perceive scientists, what they enjoy/hate about science and what might have been stopping them taking science further in their education.
This has been particularly important in terms of outreach events, in ensuring we are capturing those students who feel that science isn’t for them and trying to change their minds! I have been particularly determined to change the perception of female scientists to both boys and girls.
On March 17th we ran a Science Fair in the University of Stirling, aimed at students aged 5-15 years old. In total there were 35 volunteers on the day from multiple organisations within and out with the University of Stirling.
We collaborated with Forth Valley College science department, Stirling Library and IT department, Centre for Aquaculture in Stirling and multiple departments with the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Sports Science in the University of Stirling. The event featured a range of scientific activities.
Staff from Biological and Environmental Sciences department ran chemistry experiments, sessions on animal behaviour and a focus on conservation, with attractions including ‘seed bombs’, ‘bug hotel’ and ‘building a bat’. Children were also able to learn about renewable energy by building wind turbines.
A demonstration of 3D printing and scanning was hosted by Information Services staff; Aquaculture held a ‘What is it?’ quiz using scanning electron microscope images; Computing Sciences and Maths taught sustainable agriculture using Lego; and Sports Sciences explained heart monitoring, muscles and neurons. Staff from Forth Valley College held sessions on ‘life at microscopic level’, forensic; and ‘understanding your DNA’.
We had approximately 250 students attend the Science Fair which was an increase on our March 16th 2017 Science Fair of 150 attendees. I felt that this year’s Science Fair was a big advancement on our previous events. The main reason being that we were able to use the prize money to run competitions and enable volunteers to buy materials for their activities.
In each of the science book prizes each scientist wrote a message of encouragement in the cover. Our event even made it into the local paper which can only be a positive influence for the next event in March 2019.
I hope that the Science Fair become an integral part of the Natural Science Faculty outreach agenda and I will continue to run and organise this event in the future. I spent £250 on science books for competition prizes (I still have books for next year’s Science fair), £70 on poster printing for activity stalls, £55 for equipment (e.g. colouring pens, blue tack, sweets), £30 for subsistence for voluntary staff which included 1 water and a bag of crisps per person and £90 for stickers for completion of 4 activities at the fair.
Photography by Whyler Photos of Stirling