In September last year we wrote about Widening Participation. We’ve refined our criteria a little since then; below is our definition of a widening participation school. We’ve decided on these criteria because they match, in broad terms, the kinds of criteria universities use to identify widening participation students. A widening participation school is… In England and Wales A school in an area where POLAR3 is in the first quintile, or… A school where the % of students eligible for free school meals is higher than 41%, or… A school where the % of students achieving 5 grades A*–C at KS4 is below 45%, or… A school where the % of students level 4 in reading, writing, and maths at KS2 is below 45%, or… A school more than 25 miles from their nearest HEI. In Scotland A school in a remote rural area, or a remote small town Where an independent school matches the criteria it will not be counted as … Continue reading
Demand for our activities has been slowly increasing. We regularly have more classes requested than we are able to accommodate and we have to limit the number of classes we offer teachers. In November 2015, for the first time we had to start turning down teachers, unable to limit classes to a point where every teacher who applied could be given a place. This increasing demand for classes has lead us to prioritise schools where we believe our activities can add the most value, where online STEM engagement can make the most difference. Most of our funders are prioritising underserved audiences. For us that means schools that traditionally don’t send many students on to Higher Education or are located disadvantageously for STEM engagement activities. Sadly this means that some schools who have been able to take up places in the past will not be able to take part without additional funding. Beginning … Continue reading
We’ve just run I’m a Scientist in Ireland and are curious to know how our event actually affects students’ attitudes towards science. In order to do this, we included a short and compulsory pre-event survey in the form students used to register. We then asked students to fill in the exact same survey on their profile page after the event. When we matched the data from the two surveys, 92 students (7% of 1,247 students that participated in I’m a Scientist) had filled in both surveys. Importantly, data from the total number of students that filled in the pre-event survey very closely correlates with the pre-event data of this 92 student sample. We were very happy to find out that students’ interest in science and science related careers is clearly increased after taking part in I’m a Scientist. This is what we have learnt: The amount of students that say they love science doubled after taking part in … Continue reading
Something we’d like to encourage is more scientists visiting schools after taking part in I’m a Scientist. After every event we add the participating scientists and schools to this map – about.imascientist.org.uk/about/teacher-and-scientist-map – sharing the scientists’ contact details with teachers. One teacher who’s made the most of the scientists nearby is Tom Holloway, from Westfield Primary School in Surrey. 4 scientists have visited the school, and he tells us more about what they got up to… “Westfield Primary School has taken part in I’m A Scientist Get Me Out Of Here for two years running now. It has been an amazing learning experience for our pupils who have been motivated and engaged by the event. One of the best outcomes for our school has been the number of visits to us that it has generated. Impressed by our pupils enthusiasm for and love of science, lots of scientists who have taken part in IMAS have … Continue reading
Teacher Emma Wagg, from Trentham High School (@ejw232 on twitter) has taken part in I’m a Scientist since 2011. I asked her if it feels different each time she takes part, and if some groups of students take to it more than others. Here’s what she said about taking part with her BTEC class.. Last year I did it with triple science students but this year with students completing the BTEC Principles of Science course. Their questions were amazing. Their interest was fab. They were genuinely interested in the answers. And were really impressed that the scientists gave up their time for them. It was the first time I’ve really felt like they truly appreciated that. They also recognised that the scientists could discover/create something truly amazing. The look on their faces when this dawned on them was something special. At the end of the live chat, Jack said ‘Miss, that was awesome’. It … Continue reading
For I’m a Scientist to work we need to run zones that teachers and students want. So when we’re deciding on zones to run in the next event we ask teachers to tell us what they want. Teachers voted on a longlist of zones we drew up – they could select as many as they’d be interested in taking part in. We also asked them for suggestions for other zones. Over 100 teachers told us what zones they’d like to see. The results are below.
After taking part in I’m a Scientist in June 2012, Ellie Russell, a science teacher from Trinity CE High School in Hulme, told us about other ways she uses I’m a Scientist resources. Here’s what she said… I can’t remember who first told me about I’m a Scientist last year, but straight away I knew it was a concept that would appeal to our students. Since then we have signed up for several zones with different classes and the students have truly enjoyed engaging with real scientists and finding out a bit more about what they do. To be honest, even though I’ve been really keen, it’s taken me a few more months to realise just how useful some of the other resources are for us too. We teachers are never very keen to read through all that useful support information! The Debate Kits for Drugs in Sport and IVF … Continue reading
You’ve given us quite a few suggestions for themed zones for next year. Along with the ones we used last year, there’s a good list here for you to vote on. Please vote for the zones you think you’d like to take part in. HOWEVER, you’ll see that some suggestions I haven’t put up. This is because I wasn’t quite sure how they’d work, or they were a bit vague and I wasn’t sure what the right specific suggestion would be. I’m explaining why (i.e. rambling on about this) below the poll. Please can you help me work this out?! Use the comments to add your thoughts and when we’ve worked out more suggestions I can keep adding things to this list. [poll id=”5″] A discussion on How Science Works (HSW) zone topics One suggestion was a HSW zone. The problem with this is, who would we put in it? … Continue reading
Here is an article written for a school newsletter by a teenager, about the experience of taking part in I’m a Scientist. I’m a Scientist, Get me out of Here! Sound familiar? One small change – we’ve swapped a group of celebrities trying to eat the entire jungle for a group of buzzing scientists – each in a jungle of questions and comments. Another textbook science lesson? Maybe not! I’m a scientist is a website aimed at all teenagers – interested in science or not (but believe me, by the time you finish the project, science will have taken over your brain and made you love it for the rest of your life). Each pupil is given a login, leading to their individual area which can be personalised with pictures of famous scientists, exploding chemicals and swine flu particles. The login works for a specific zone. In each zone, there … Continue reading
Do you think science is perfect, or is there something about it you want to change? And can the internet help you do it? Is the peer review system broken? Why do we still publish research papers? What are the problems with the system? What’s the proper relationship between government and scientific advisors? Are there barriers (that we could change) to women excelling in science, or are they just not as good at it? What about ethnic minorities and people from different socioeconomic groups? How can scientists explain the value of their work (and funding it)? Are scientists answering (or asking) the questions that really matter? Are there ways that scientists could gain by communicating better with others in their field? With scientists in other fields? With people outside science? Fold.it and Galaxy Zoo are great. Are there other areas where people could get involved in actually taking part in … Continue reading
There’s an article about IAS in the ASE‘s Education in Science magazine for April, surely the crème de la crème of science education media? The article was written by me and Ian Francis, our Education Consultant. Our author copies have just arrived so we are all quite excited (look Mum, my name in print!). Unfortunately they don’t publish the articles online, so I can’t link to it, but look out for it if you are a subscriber. If you are an Education in Science reader who’s here because you read the article, then Hi! This site is the project blog, where you can find out what we’re up to, and about the development of the project. The event site is here, and you can look back at the March 2009 event, or the pilot last June, and see the kind of questions young people asked and the answers scientists gave. … Continue reading
I’ve been intrigued today by this piece of research. To summarize (for those of you who don’t feel like clicking), researchers looking at behaviour in Przewalski horses found that in groups with low adult/young ratios “young horses were more aggressive and more segregated from adults and they established tighter bonds with other young.” The scientists go on to speculate. “Tighter bonds between young in groups with low proportions of adults could be a factor which decreases the attention paid to adults and probably reduces their influence as regulators of the behaviour of young, in particular their aggressive behaviour.” Of course this mimics the environment we artificially create for our young people, in schools. I have often thought that it’s odd the way we lock children away from the rest of society and designate a small number of adults to interact with them, while the rest of the adult world effectively … Continue reading
Sorry, the posts are coming thick and fast at the moment – it’s all go here! (And Bradford on Avon’s been flooded, meaning the sandwich shop is shut, so we are coping without proper sustenance:-)) Anyway, I’m pleased as punch about our latest news, so I’m inflicting it on you, dear readers, my apologies to your inboxes. The National Science Learning Centre (in the form of Miranda Stephenson, who’s been really helpful) has given us their official backing, in the form of a lovely letter praising our project and urging people to support it financially (click here to download and read the letter!). For those of you who don’t know, the NSLC are like the headquarters for science teaching being as good as possible:- “The aim of the national network of Science Learning Centres is to promote excellent science teaching by reconnecting teachers with the frontiers of their subject and the … Continue reading
Yep, I recently became even more high-tech and with it, and set up an I’m a Scientist twitter account. I’ll be posting my conference updates there, if you want to know what you are missing out on. So far I’ve been to a couple of interesting sessions:-), failed to get a free conference bag:-(, and got pretty cold :-/.
I’m now off to the ASE conference on Friday. If any of you are going then give me a shout. Or any suggestions for a newbie on ‘must do’ things gratefully received. I’ll take a photo, if I remember, and do a post about what I found out when I get back.
Firstly, one of our nice teachers from the pilot has asked me to help publicise another ‘webchats with scientists’ project:-
We got a great response to our request for suggestions on who to approach for funding – thanks everyone! Suggestions included Learned Societies and Institutes, companies, charities and public bodies like NESTA, SETpoints and the SLC. Some of these people I did contact when we were originally looking for funding for the pilot, but didn’t get very far. Pretty much everyone said they didn’t have any money, but suggested we tried the Wellcome Trust People Awards (who came up trumps). However, now we have a tried and tested event it should be a different proposition. Hopefully. I keep reading about how there’s going to be a skills gap, young people are being turned off science and technology and everyone wants to invest in projects to combat this, and all I can think is, “We can do it! Give us some money!”.
Moderating I’m a Scientist was like driving through a terrific summer storm. Now the chatrooms have cleared, and emails have slowed to a patter, it’s time to venture out and take stock. Goodbye, question and answer sessions; hello, feedback forms! My favourite feedback response so far: “The scientists SEEM like normal people but I can’t be quite sure…” – thanks to imwithstupid for that comment.
This has been even harder than choosing the schools. We ended up cutting out bits of paper with everyone’s details on and moving them all around the desk, making up fantasy groups and trying to see if each group had got everything covered. I really wanted to include almost everyone, but we had to say no to some really great people. However, I think the 15 scientists we’ve picked (five for each group of students) will be fantastic – good communicators, enthusiastic, with interesting work to discuss and raising some thought-provoking issues. I would publish the details on here, but I’ve not had confirmation back from everyone yet. But I can tell you that topics covered range from studying climate change to engineering solutions for rectal incontinence. Which is really quite a range, however you look at it. Teacher packs We’re sending the teacher packs out today to participating teachers. … Continue reading
Well we’ve been beavering away here in I’m a Scientist Towers. We’ve taken on a freelancer to develop the teacher packs. Becky Davies usually works at Techniquest