Category Archives: Science Engagement

Moderator Vacancy March 2017

We’re looking for a moderator to work with us on our March 2017 events! I’m a Scientist and I’m an Engineer are award-winning online events allowing students (from 9 – 18) to interact with real live scientists and engineers. The events will run from the 6th to the 17th March 2017; I’m a Scientist UK and I’m an Engineer UK and Ireland.

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 and tags
  • 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 in science engagement.
  • You’ll have great attention to detail (THIS IS IMPORTANT)
  • You enjoy being online, perhaps have experience in an online community.
  • The site is all built on WordPress, so if you’ve used that the techy stuff will be pretty familiar.
  • You’d be working from home, so you must also have broadband which doesn’t die every 10 minutes.

Extra bonus things we’d like, but aren’t hugely important..

  • A sense of humor
  • The ability to multitask
  • Openness in discussing your lunch

Please send a CV and short covering letter ASAP (by midday Friday 24th February 2017), to Michaela at michaela@gallomanor.com, telling us why you think you’d be a good moderator.

  • Dates: 6th – 17th March (Monday – Friday)
  • Hours: 37.5/week, 08.30-16.30 GMT 
  • Pay: £8/hr

We will be running moderator training over Skype, on Thursday 2nd March from 11-12am.

You can (and should) find out more about the events at: I’m a Scientist UK and I’m an Engineer UK and Ireland.

You don’t need to..
Phone us because that’s what your careers officer said you should do.
Send a CV comprising more than 2 pages, with font smaller than 10pt or 2mm margins.

Posted on February 8, 2017 modmichaela in Event News, News, Science Engagement | Leave a comment

Super Mod: Job opportunity

Title: Super Mod
Location: Our office in Bath
Dates: 7 weeks from 13th February – 31st March (Monday – Friday)
Hours: 37.5/week, 9:30 – 17:30
Pay: £10/hr

We’re looking for someone to help us run our I’m a Scientist and I’m an Engineer events this March, on a temporary basis from our office in central Bath. We need general support across all parts of the event, including administration, moderation and evaluation. You’ll be doing lots of different things, including:

  • Blog posts and tweets
  • Keeping track of live chat bookings
  • Assistance with evaluation after the event
  • Compiling addresses and printing letters and certificates
  • Helping to run the site, making sure everything is running smoothly

Between 6th – 17th March you’ll also be moderating, which is a lot of fun, as the students (and scientists) are quick, funny and full of energy. Key responsibilities include:

  • Checking and approving questions
  • Adding appropriate keywords and tags
  • Logging and keeping track of questions, comments and dialogue
  • Checking the site for errors and inappropriate content and usernames
  • Moderating live chats

What we’d like from you:

  • You should be bright, thoughtful and pick stuff up easily
  • You have great attention to detail (this is important!)
  • You are practical, with the ability to multitask
  • You enjoy being online, perhaps with experience in an online community
  • You know how to use Word and Excel

Extra bonus things which would be good:

  • An interest in STEM engagement
  • Experience using WordPress (this is what our site is built on)
  • Openness in discussing your lunch

You can find out more about our events at: imascientist.org.uk and imanengineer.org.uk.
To apply, please send a cover letter and short CV to michaela@gallomanor.com by Monday 30th January

Posted on January 12, 2017 modmichaela in Event News, News, Science Engagement | Leave a comment

Moderator Vacancies November 2016

Hello! We’re looking for some moderators for our November 2016 events! I’m a Scientist and I’m an Engineer are award-winning online events allowing students (from 9 – 18) to interact with real live scientists and engineers. We’re looking for 4 moderators to work on the next event which will run from the 7th to the 18th November 2016. We will also be running I’m a Scientist Ireland.

First rule of moderator club… This is a paid, 10 day job.
If you aren’t free from 8:30 – 4pm on all 10 days, please don’t apply.

Your key responsibilities will be:

  • Checking and approving questions
  • Adding appropriate keywords and tags
  • 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 in science engagement.
  • You’ll have great attention to detail (THIS IS IMPORTANT)
  • You enjoy being online, perhaps have experience in an online community.
  • The site is all built on WordPress, so if you’ve used that the techy stuff will be pretty familiar.
  • You’d be working from home, so you must also have broadband which doesn’t die every 10 minutes.

Extra bonus things we’d like, but aren’t hugely important..

  • A sense of humor
  • The ability to multitask
  • Openness in discussing your lunch

Please send a CV and short covering letter ASAP (by Monday 24th October 2016), to Michaela at michaela@gallomanor.com, telling us why you think you’d be a good moderator.

  • Dates: 7th – 18th November (Monday – Friday)
  • Hours: 37.5/week, 08.30-16.00 GMT
  • Pay: £8/hr

You can (and should) find out more about the events at: I’m a Scientist UK and Ireland and I’m an Engineer UK.

You don’t need to..
Phone us because that’s what your careers officer said you should do.
Send a CV comprising more than 2 pages, with font smaller than 10pt or 2mm margins.

Posted on October 10, 2016 modmichaela in Event News, News, Science Engagement | Leave a comment

Moderator Vacancies June 2016

Hello! It’s that time again! We’re looking for a couple of moderators for our June 2016 events! I’m a Scientist and I’m an Engineer are award-winning online events allowing students (from 9 – 18) to interact with real live scientists and engineers. We’re looking for 2 moderators to work on the next event which will run from the 13th to the 24th June 2016.

First rule of moderator club… This is a paid, 10 day job, if you can’t do the 10 days, please don’t apply.

Your key responsibilities will be:

  • Checking and approving questions
  • Adding appropriate keywords and tags
  • 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 in science engagement.
  • You’ll have great attention to detail (THIS IS IMPORTANT)
  • You enjoy being online, perhaps have experience in an online community.
  • The site is all built on WordPress, so if you’ve used that the techy stuff will be pretty familiar.
  • You’d be working from home, so you must also have broadband which doesn’t die every 10 minutes.

Extra bonus things we’d like, but aren’t hugely important..

  • A sense of humor
  • The ability to multitask
  • Openness in discussing your lunch

Please send a CV and short covering letter ASAP (by Monday 30th May 2016), to Michaela at michaela@gallomanor.com, telling us why you think you’d be a good moderator.

  • Dates: 13th – 24th June (Monday – Friday)
  • Hours: 37.5/week, 08.30-16.00 GMT
  • Pay: £8/hr

You can (and should) find out more about the events at: I’m a Scientist UK and I’m an Engineer UK.

You don’t need to..
Phone us because that’s what your careers officer said you should do.
Send a CV comprising more than 2 pages, with font smaller than 10pt or 2mm margins.

Posted on May 3, 2016 modmichaela in Event News, News, Science Engagement | Leave a comment

Moderator Vacancies: March 2016

Hi again! It’s us again! It’s that time again! We’re looking for a couple of moderators for our March 2016 events! I’m a Scientist and I’m an Engineer are award-winning online events allowing students (from 9 – 18) to interact with real live scientists and engineers. We’re looking for 2 moderators to work on the next event which will run from the 7th to the 18th March 2016. We will also be running I’m an Engineer Ireland and I’m an Astronaut (which is very cool).

First rule of moderator club.. This is a paid, 10 day job, if you can’t do the 10 days, please don’t apply.

Your key responsibilities will be:

  • checking and approving questions
  • adding appropriate keywords and tags
  • 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 in science engagement.
  • You’ll have great attention to detail (THIS IS IMPORTANT)
  • You enjoy being online, perhaps have experience in an online community.
  • The site is all built on WordPress, so if you’ve used that the techy stuff will be pretty familiar.
  • You’d be working from home, so you must also have broadband which doesn’t die every 10 minutes.

Extra bonus things we’d like, but aren’t hugely important..

  • A sense of humor
  • The ability to multitask
  • Interested in discussing your lunch

Please send a CV and short covering letter ASAP (by Monday 22nd February 2016), to Emily at emily@gallomanor.com, telling us why you think you’d be a good moderator.

  • Dates: 7th – 18th March (Monday – Friday)
  • Hours: 37.5/week, 08.30-16.00 GMT
  • Pay: £8/hr

You can (and should) find out more about the events at: I’m a Scientist UK and Ireland and I’m an Engineer UK and Ireland.

You don’t need to..
Phone us because that’s what your careers officer said you should do.
Send a CV comprising more than 2 pages, with font smaller than 10pt or 2mm margins.

Posted on February 2, 2016 modemily in Event News, News, Science Engagement | Leave a comment

Moderator Vacancies: November 2015

Hello! It’s us! We’re looking for moderators for our November 2015 events! I’m a Scientist and I’m an Engineer are award-winning online events allowing students (from 9 – 18) to interact with real live scientists and engineers. We’re looking for 2 moderators to work on the next event which will run from the 9th to the 20th November 2015. We will also be running I’m a Scientist and I’m an Engineer in Ireland.

Your key responsibilities will be:

  • checking and approving questions
  • adding appropriate keywords and tags
  • 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 in science engagement.
  • You’ll have great attention to detail (THIS IS IMPORTANT)
  • You enjoy being online, perhaps have experience in an online community.
  • The site is all built on WordPress, so if you’ve used that the techy stuff will be pretty familiar.
  • You’d be working from home, so you must also have broadband which doesn’t die every 10 minutes.

Extra bonus things we’d like, but aren’t hugely important..

  • A sense of humor
  • The ability to multitask
  • Interested in discussing your lunch

Please send a CV and short covering letter ASAP (by Monday 26th October 2015), to Emily at emily@gallomanor.com, telling us why you think you’d be a good moderator.

  • Dates: 9th – 20th November (Monday – Friday)
  • Hours: 37.5/week, 08.30-16.00 GMT
  • Pay: £8/hr

You can (and should) find out more about the events at: I’m a Scientist UK and Ireland and I’m an Engineer UK and Ireland.

You don’t need to..
Phone us because that’s what your careers officer said you should do.
Send a CV comprising more than 2 pages, with font smaller than 10pt or 2mm margins.

Posted on October 7, 2015 modemily in Event News, News, Science Engagement | Comments Off on Moderator Vacancies: November 2015

Research vs Evaluation

Science Learning+ is a significant funding scheme provided jointly between the Wellcome Trust and the National Science Foundation.

Learning can happen anywhere and at any time. Science Learning+ is an international initiative that aims to understand the power of informal learning experiences inside and outside of school.

The second aim of the scheme is to

“bridge the practice and research gap”

At a seminar in July aimed at providing an update on the Phase I project an interesting conversation developed about that gap between Science Communication practitioners and researchers.

I heard one speaker talk about practitioners wanting to know if a hypothetical red headline would give a 3% uplift in visitors. I responded on twitter:

Not all practioners agreed with me. Some felt each project would be unique enough to warrent a rewriting of expectations

Others simply disagreed and place efficacy as something for researchers:

In the end 140 characters felt underpowered.

For me research and evaluation are different, but very related.

I expect research to tell me if an approach to science communication works and how it works. I expect evaluation to tell me how well a project is working and how it can be improved. I would like evaluation to draw upon the research to extrapolate that particular  activities will lead to particular outcomes.

For example using I’m a Scientist:

The feedback we get from our participants is that connecting online with scientists improves their attitude to science, and to jobs in science. We seem to find the changes in attitude among girls is greater than it is for boys.

I want some research to tell me why those conversations are improving attitudes and if those changes are persistent. I want the research to be telling me how online activity compares to offline activity and why.

I want research to tell me what characteristics of engagement deliver the best and most persistent improvements in attitude and achievement.

Then I want my evaluation to examine our work against those characteristics and to suggest ways to improve them.

Research  = why something works

Evaluation = how well something works

What do you think?

Posted on August 27, 2015 ModShane in Evaluation, Science Engagement | Leave a comment

Engaging under-served audiences – talk at Bristol Zoo

Last week I was asked to speak about our experience of engaging under-served audiences. Here are my notes from which I spoke:

IAS is free online activity that connects school children and scientists. Kids go online, read scientist profiles, ask questions, take part in live chats and vote for the one they want to win.

Split into zones of 5 scientists and about 350 students. Mixture of general and themed zones. Been running since 2008 and reached nearly 70,000 students and over 1,000 scientists and engineers have taken part.

Scientists hear about it through colleagues, organisational emails and social media. They apply for the chance to take part. Tough selection process 1:4 for general zones.

Students hear about it through their teachers who sign up to take part. Over subscribed for I’m a Scientist and many teachers don’t get as many classes as they would like.

One way we do reach students who don’t normally get involved in science engagement is through product design.

Anecdotally, if a scientist visits a school, a class, 1:3 kids might stick their hand up to ask a question. With the online, pseudonymous nature of the activity we tend to get nearly 90% of the students actively participating – asking questions, chatting, commenting or voting. A side effect of this equality of voice is that not only do the quieter pupils get to ask their question but the other, louder, more confident students learn that their quieter peers do have something interesting to say. On a micro-scale this is reaching new audiences. And it is important. Not every engagement style works for everyone.

And it seems to suit some young people who don’t always get a say.

IAS is a spin off from a different project called I’m a Councillor, Get me out of here.

The inspiration for that project came out of conversations with council officers trying to interest young people in local democracy. They were doing things like inviting kids to shadow councillors for the day or they would invite students to visit the council chamber – and marvel at the majesty of our democratic overlords. The idea of an online activity was attractive to many, even if for some it just meant they weren’t going to need to clean up the graffiti left behind in the council chamber.

The why for us was that councils were trying to engage with mini-politicians, not mini-citizens. For me that was the more important democratic objective.

Over the 7 years that project ran some of the most memorable encounters were between the councillors and students from traditionally under-served groups.

I could talk about the pupil from the special school asking about the “futcha” for Bexhill or the feedback from the teacher at the PRU in Derbyshire who told us it was the first time that their pupils had ever been taken seriously by an authority figure. But it was the live chat between Nadia and a couple of Cardiff City Councillors that I remember best. The chat had been booked for 8pm by Steve a youth centre manager in Cardiff. It wasn’t the greatest of chats. Nadia was the only person online and was demanding a swimming pool for her and her mates. The two councillors patiently explained that Nadia should get together with friends and start a petition. After about 20 minutes of chat punctuated by strings of ****’s as Nadia’s choice of words got caught by our profanity filter, the chat was brought to a sudden end with Nadia typing, Nah can’t be bothered, bye bitches.

A disaster I thought.

5 minutes later Steve, the youth centre manager called me. That was brilliant he told me. Nadia had been excluded from every school in Cardiff and banned from every youth group. That night’s chat was the first time that Steve had ever seen Nadia engage with anything. Normally 1 in 5 words was a swear word but tonight in was only 1 in 20. He was ecstatic.

The point is that for some groups online communication is better than face-to-face and not just because of geography.

But having established that a project is good for certain groups it isn’t always as simple as that to get them involved.

We also look at the promotion aspect of reaching under-served audiences. Traditionally and anecdotally we’re told that science engagement projects do tend to reach the better resourced schools where kids often have plenty of privilege. Which means some schools are not taking part. But it isn’t so easy to identify them. Tied in is the issue for universities of widening participation as part of their fair access agreement required to charge £9,000 per year.

But what does widening participation mean? Apparently no two universities share the same definition (perhaps this has changed by now). We looked at a number of measures: IDACI, POLAR (participation in local area), and GCSE 5+ – when we looked at how the schools participating in IAS compared to the national profile against each of these criteria we were quite happy. We were getting a broad cross-section. And when compared to another large scale science engagement project we were performing well. But still not well enough.

There are flaws in the use of these measures. IDACI and POLAR give results based on the postcode of the school rather than it’s catchment area. The two can differ greatly. Secondly many of the schools in the poorest inner-city areas would also get greater funding through pupil premium and city-weighted education funding, perhaps allowing teachers more opportunities to bring in outside science engagement activities. Combine that with the fact that inner-city schools are also more likely to be within a short distance of a university and perhaps the inner-city schools aren’t so underserved.

So we still have a challenge on defining underserved.

We’re currently trying to work with other organisations like STEMNet to form a definition but in the meantime one of the factors we are looking at is distance. We’re looking to target schools from the poorer coastal areas in the UK.

But targeting is easier said than done.

We’ve conducted a few small experiments in recent years.

1. For one zone recently we sent 20 secondary schools in the most income deprived areas of the UK a teacher pack for the event inviting them to participate in the upcoming event. The idea was to make it as simple as possible for them to join in. Not one of them did. Not great.

2. More recently we posted a letter and some flyers to 200 primary schools in rural and coastal areas inviting them to apply to take part. The letter explained that Y5/6 was particularly important and that since they were in a remote area they might gain the most benefit. We’ve had 2 sign up. Not bad. OK

3. For a Food Zone in 2013 we looked at the schools signed up for the zone and worked out which would “qualify” as widening participation schools. There were about 5. Each teacher was called to make sure that they had received their packs and that they understood how the event worked. We looked after them, gave them special treatment. Every single one showed up online compared to a usual 2/3rds rate. It worked.

The learning we take from this is that you should look after the people already showing an interest. You get a better impact than simply going after more and more of your target. It might sound obvious, but for us we don’t have the time to call every school.
But we now realise that the time and money we might have spent sending stuff out to schools who hadn’t shown an interest, would be better spent on looking after the ones who had already shown some interest.

We’ll be repeating the specific targeting of schools in remote areas and giving special attention to those who respond. Thank you.

Posted on June 8, 2015 modshane in Evaluation, Science Engagement, Widening Participation | Leave a comment

June 2015 Moderator Job Vacancies

Hey, it’s that time again! We’re looking for moderators for our June 2015 event! I’m a Scientist and I’m an Engineer are award-winning online events allowing students (from 9 – 18) to interact with real live scientists. We’re looking for 2 moderators to work on the next event which will run from the 15th June to the 26th June 2015.

Your key responsibilities will be:

  • checking and approving questions
  • adding appropriate keywords and tags
  • 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 in science engagement.
  • You’ll have great attention to detail (THIS IS IMPORTANT)
  • You enjoy being online, perhaps have experience in an online community.
  • The site is all built on WordPress, so if you’ve used that the techy stuff will be pretty familiar.
  • You’d be working from home, so you must also have broadband which doesn’t die every 10 minutes.

Extra bonus things we’d like, but aren’t hugely important..

  • A sense of humor
  • The ability to multitask
  • Interested in discussing your lunch

Please send a CV and short covering letter ASAP (by Monday 1st June 2015), to Emily at emily@gallomanor.com, telling us why you think you’d be a good moderator.

  • Dates: 15th – 26th June (Monday – Friday)
  • Hours: 37.5/week, 08.30-16.00 GMT
  • Pay: £7.50/hr

You can (and should) find out more about the events at: imascientist.org.uk and imanengineer.org.uk.

Posted on May 21, 2015 modemily in Event News, Science Engagement | Comments Off on June 2015 Moderator Job Vacancies

March 2014 Moderator Job Vacancies

I’m a Scientist, Get me out of here is an award-winning online event allowing students (from 9 – 18) to interact with real live scientists. We’re looking for 3 moderators to work on the next event which will run from the 10th March to the 21st March 2014. We will also be running a zone in I’m an Engineer at the same time, which will also need moderating.

Your key responsibilities will be:

  • checking and approving questions
  • adding appropriate keywords and tags
  • 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 in science engagement.
  • You’ll have great attention to detail and will enjoy being online, perhaps have experience in an online community.
  • The site is all built on WordPress, so if you’ve used that the techy stuff will be pretty familiar.
  • You’d be working from home, so you must also have broadband which doesn’t die every 10 minutes.

Please send a CV and short covering letter ASAP (by Monday 3rd March 2014), to Emily at emily@gallomanor.com, telling us why you think you’d be a good moderator.

  • Dates: 10th – 21st March (Monday – Friday)
  • Hours: 37.5/week, 08.30-16.00 GMT
  • Pay: £7.50/hr

You can (and should) find out more about the events at: imascientist.org.uk and imanengineer.org.uk. You might also want to read this – on what kind of thing we’re looking for.

Posted on February 6, 2014 modemily in Event News, IAS Event, Science Engagement | Comments Off on March 2014 Moderator Job Vacancies

I’m a Scientist acts as a public engagement booster for scientists

Anecdotally, we’ve heard of how I’m a Scientist can be a good starting point for science communication activities. This was the case of Suzi Gage, Tom Crick or Suze Kundu, who took part in I’m a Scientist in June 2011 and are now putting a great emphasis on the communication side of their scientific careers or even fully devoting to it.

Twitter conversation about the impact of I'm a Scientist on Science Communication careers

Twitter conversation about the impact of I’m a Scientist on Science Communication careers

However, we were still curious to know to what extent we could extrapolate this to the wider community of scientists that have participated in the event during the last years. How could we know if I’m a Scientist had encouraged them to do more science outreach? Well, we decided to ask them.

We sent a survey to all the scientists that had participated in I’m a Scientist until 2012, leaving a gap of at least one year since they took part in the event. Approximately a quarter of the scientist responded to the survey, resulting in a more than decent sample of 113 scientists. The data collected in the survey show that there is a strong indication that I’m a Scientist is a real public engagement (PE) boost for scientists.

Summary of the survey's main findings

Summary of the survey’s main findings

I’m a Scientist is a good way to start doing public engagement in schools

If we look at public engagement at schools, we have recorded a significant increase, especially among those scientists that were particularly new to this form of outreach. Moreover, scientists who had never done school public engagement were encouraged to do more public engagement in general, going from none to an average of over 4 activities per year.  This was supported by some great comments gathered in the survey:

Having never done outreach with schools before, IAS gave me the chance to engage with a different audience than I would typically.” – Scientist

Scientists find the event flexible, open and inclusive

The online nature of the event was praised by different scientists that left comments in the survey:

I really liked how the online format broke down barriers and allowed the students to ask anything they wanted without having to stand up in a crowd.” – Scientist

Having all the activity online also gave me the flexibility to contribute more of my time, ad from a remote setting, compared to face-to-face school visits.” – Scientist

"Sifting the evidence" Suzy Gage blog hosted by The Guardian

“Sifting the evidence” Suzy Gage blog hosted by The Guardian

Some of the scientists had already contributed to the online scientific community with blog posts, podcasts or through social media. However, for a high proportion of them (68 out of the total 113) I’m a Scientist represented their first online public engagement event, which really pushed up their participation in general public engagement. In this case, their collaboration with public engagement activities went from zero to more than 3 general outreach events per year.

It was also interesting to find out that those who had already done lots of public engagement (4-15 activities per year) started doing more specific online outreach after participating in I’m a Scientist, at the expense of other forms of public engagement.

I’m a Scientist reveals itself as a great launchpad for budding science communicators

The majority of the scientists that filled in the survey (86%) had already taken part in some kind of public engagement activity (lectures, science festivals, interviews in traditional media, science policy making, etc.). It was a nice surprise to find out that scientists who had done very little public engagement (1-3 activities per year) increased their activity dramatically, going up to 5-8 outreach activities per year after the event. What is more, the greatest increase in overall public engagement activity (an increase of 130%) corresponded to the scientists who were just doing very little of it before the event.

Looking at the big picture, there is a general trend that I’m a Scientist enhances the participation of scientists in outreach events, except in the case of those who already did loads (more than 30 activities per year), where there is very little room for improvement. All in all, we are happy to confirm that I’m a Scientist represents a great launching platform for public engagement in science.

It remains the best public engagement event in which I have been involved.” – Scientist

 

Posted on January 8, 2014 modangela in Evaluation, Event News, News, Science Engagement, Scientists | Leave a comment

How does I’m a Scientist change students’ perceptions of science?

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 I’m a Scientist

How does school make you feel about science?

How does school make you feel about science?

I’m a Scientist really got the students excited about science! Before taking part in the event, only 23% of students said they loved science, but this number increased up to 51% after the event. On the other hand, the number of students that don’t feel really excited about science or think it is boring decreased from 9% to 3%.

Participating in I’m a Scientist encourages students to choose a science subject in the next stage of their education

In the pre-event survey, 66% of the students were absolutely certain or very inclined to choose a science subject next year. However, this percentage raised up to 71% after participating in I’m a Scientist.

Thanks guys for talking to me really helped me make my decision for the leaving cert – sarahlawless, student

Students are keener on science related jobs after participating in I’m a Scientist

The majority of students that completed the surveys already thought that jobs involving science are at least fairly interesting before taking part in the event, but there was still room for improvement and the percentage of students that considered science related jobs very interesting saw a big increase from 36% to 62%.

Taking part in I’m a Scientist increases the likelihood of students looking for a job that uses their science skills

How likely are you to look for a job that uses your science knowledge?

How likely are you to look for a job that uses your science knowledge?

Before taking part in I’m a Scientist, a big portion of the students (37%) couldn’t decide whether they would try to look for a job that uses their science skills and only 10% said they were sure that they would look for this type of job. However, the event seemed to be the boost that students needed to be more confident about looking for a science related job. After I’m a Scientist, most of the students (68%) said that they would certainly or very probably look for a job that uses their science knowledge.

Honoured to have taken part. The future of science is in very good hands with you guys! – scientist

In addition to this, students left several comments that stated clearly how they were enjoying and learning at the same time throughout the event. They liked that the event was so interactive and that they had an active part at every step: asking, commenting, chatting and voting.

In the future, we would like to use this same strategy to measure the impact of other events or activities. We are also very interested in analysing the gender and year course differences that could be found in the pre-event data.

Posted on December 19, 2013 modangela in Evaluation, Event News, IAS Event, News, Science Education, Science Engagement, Teachers | Leave a comment

Organising schools visits from IAS scientists – a teacher’s view

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 come to see us.

fionamcmurray

Fiona McMurray from MRC Harwell has visited us twice and ran a fantastic activity with Year 4 and 6 children in which they extracted DNA from strawberries. On her I’m a Scientist profile Fiona said she “Had a great time at Westfield Primary school!”

garybrickley

Gary Brickley, from The University of Brighton, visited and gave us an inspirational talk about his work on sport science and with paralympic cyclists.

simonpark

Finally Simon Park from The University of Surrey, came and ran a brilliant workshop on bacteria in which the children learnt about slime mould, looked a bioluminiscent bacteria in the dark, examined a sample of their teacher’s spit through a powerful microscope and grew the bacteria living on their fingertips in petri dishes – a wonderful morning of learning.

jamesholloway

We’re also looking forward to a visit by Jimmy Holloway who won the Palladium Zone last year. IMAS is a fantastic event and I strongly recommend taking part to all schools.”

 

If any teachers would like help contacting scientists for school visits, just get in touch with hannah@gallomanor.com or on 01225 326892. 

 

Posted on June 26, 2013 in IAS Event, News, School, Science Education, Science Engagement | Leave a comment

June 2013 Moderator Job Vacancies

I’m a Scientist, Get me out of here is an award-winning online event allowing teenagers to interact with real live scientists. We’re looking for 6 moderators to work on the next event which will run from the 17th to the 28th of June 2013. We will also be running 2 zones in I’m an Engineer at the same time, which will also need moderating.

Your key responsibilities will be will be:

  • hosting/moderating live chats
  • approving questions
  • looking after your zones
  • logging and keeping track of great questions, comments and dialogue
  • checking the site for errors and inappropriate content
  • 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.

What we’d like from you..

  • You should be bright, thoughtful, pick stuff up easily, ideally with an interest in science engagement.
  • You’ll have great attention to detail and will enjoy being online, perhaps have experience in an online community.
  • The site is all built on WordPress, so if you’ve used that the techy stuff will be pretty familiar.
  • You’d be working from home, so you must also have broadband which doesn’t die every 10 minutes.

Please send a CV and short covering letter ASAP (by Monday 3rd June 2013), to Emily at emily@gallomanor.com, telling us why you think you’d be a good moderator.

  • Dates: 17th – 28th June (Monday – Friday)
  • Hours: 37.5/week, 08.30-16.00 GMT
  • Pay: £7.50/hr

You can (and should) find out more about the events at: imascientist.org.uk and imanengineer.org.uk. You might also want to read this – on what kind of thing we’re looking for.

UPDATE


Thank you to everyone who applied! We’ve now found our team of moderators. We’ll be looking for more moderators for our next event, which we’ll advertise again here, so check back in a few months.
 
 

Posted on May 13, 2013 modemily in Event News, IAS Event, Science Engagement | Leave a comment

Who are you Twitter?

As we prep for our Science Communication Conference session on how we evaluate I’m a Scientist, the occasional sidetrack leads to interesting stuff.

A while back we used Tony Hirst‘s scripts and know how to download our twitter followers network. We’ve used Gephi to map out the clusters within our network which helps us work out who is following us and how diverse our network is. We were delighted to see an Australia cluster thanks to our friends in Adelaide. More about that later.

Another useful benefit of downloading your followers is the ability to search their bios to find specific followers who are interested in certain subjects. This evening we identified 83 followers with “food” in their bio. We’ll be contacting some of them (excluding those who are just “foodies”) to tell them about our new debate kit on Food Security.

Whilst I was there I thought I’d create a little wordle with big word in it!

100 word Wordle of Bio of followers of @imascientist

100 word Wordle of Bio of followers of @imascientist

To create this wordle I exported the Gephi table into Excel and converted the bios into lowercase and change sciences into science. More cleaning of similar words would create a better wordle but time is always short. Then I pasted the words into Wordle, set a maximum of 100 words, and removed some of the irrelevant words such as twitter and tweet and like. Set some Custom Colors and tweak the layout until it worked and you can see the result. Enjoy.

Posted on April 18, 2013 modshane in Evaluation, Science Engagement | Leave a comment

Valeria shares her I’m a Scientist experience

Photo:Last Summer Valeria Senigaglia, a researcher working with dolphins in the Philippines, took part in I’m a Scientist’s Animal Behaviour Zone. Valeria enjoyed the experience so much that she dedicated a blog post to it.

I didn’t win but I had so much fun! It was challenging to explain complicated theory in few simple words and some of questions were so advanced I had to look it up myself. However it does remind you why you enjoy this work so much, by putting the research in perspective. […] It was the perfect chance to exchange ideas and information with some peers. Especially since scientists are usually secluded in small windowless rabbit holes, also called offices, and have few chances to share experiences and opinions, even less in an informal setting as it was this event. […] I highly recommend my colleagues to participate as well. Especially because you have fun in doing it and you may find out that you actually look forward to get the chance of answering some challenging and inspiring questions.”

Read Valeria’s full post here.

Posted on March 6, 2013 in Project News, Science Engagement, Scientists | Leave a comment

March 2013 Moderator Job Vacancies

I’m a Scientist, Get me out of here is an award-winning online event allowing teenagers to interact with real live scientists. We’re looking for 4 moderators to work on the next event which will run from the 11th to the 22nd of March 2013. We will also be running a zone in I’m an Engineer at the same time, which will also need moderating.

Your key responsibilities will be will be:

  • hosting/moderating live chats
  • approving questions
  • checking the site for errors and inappropriate content
  • 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.

What we’d like from you..

  • You should be bright, pick stuff up easily, ideally with an interest in science engagement.
  • You’ll have great attention to detail and will enjoy being online, perhaps have experience in an online community.
  • The site is all built on WordPress, so if you’ve used that the techy stuff will be pretty familiar.
  • You’d be working from home, so you must also have broadband which doesn’t die every 10 minutes.

If you’re in the Bath region though, we’d love for you to come in and work in the office, so we can groom you into one of us.

Please send a CV and short covering letter ASAP (by Friday 2nd March), to Emily at emily@gallomanor.com, telling us why you think you’d be a good moderator.

  • Dates: 11th – 22nd March (Monday – Friday)
  • Hours: 37.5/week, 08.30-16.00 GMT
  • Pay: £7.50/hr

You can (and should) find out more about the events at: imascientist.org.uk and imanengineer.org.uk. You might also want to read this – on what kind of thing we’re looking for.

UPDATE


Thank you to everyone who applied! We’ve now found our team of moderators. We’ll be looking for more moderators for our next event, which we’ll advertise again here, so check back in a few months.
 
 

Posted on February 11, 2013 modemily in Event News, IAS Event, Science Engagement | Leave a comment

We’re oversubscribed with teachers wanting to take part in March

We run I’m a Scientist 3 times each year – March, June & November. The March events are always busy and popular with teachers. It coincides with National Science & Engineering Week and the timing fits in well with schemes of work.

Hands up who wants to take part in I'm a Scientist. Image by: moses

Thanks to more funding we’ve added 2 more themed zones – a Digital Zone and a Food Science Zone (more on these later this week in another post).

Despite these zones creating 50 extra class places we weren’t prepared for just how oversubscribed we would be this time round.

11 zones with 25 classes in each zone gives 275 class spaces up for grabs. 142 teachers asked for 374 classes between them. Making the event oversubscribed by 36%.

So, how have we allocated classes?

  • Give as many teachers as possible places, ie give fewer classes to more teachers
  • Cap the number of classes per teacher at 5
  • Try and give teachers a zone of their choice, if possible
  • Limit the number of classes per Primary School at 1, as the event is primarily developed for Secondary students
  • Limit the number of classes for teachers who’ve been given places in the past, but not used them
  • For the first time we’re not giving places to International Schools abroad

Get on the waiting list

Some teachers will drop out before the event, so we’ll give their classes out to those on the waiting list. Email rosie@gallomanor.com with how many classes you’d like and we’ll let you know if we can fit you in.

Posted on January 23, 2013 modemily in Event News, IAS Event, News, Science Engagement | Leave a comment

Space Zone winner Paul Higgins on Science Calling!

Paul Higgins from Trinity College Dublin, won the Space Zone in I’m a Scientist, Ireland this November. He was interviewed by Maria Delaney for sciencecalling.com, scroll down to have a listen..

We put this up, not just because it’s awesome, but because Paul explains perfectly the purpose and point of I’m a Scientist; the importance of outreach, that it’s not just beneficial for students, but for scientists too.. And obviously, how much fun it all is. Congratulations Paul!

“I’ve always has this fear of having to talk to primary school students as I think they’re going to tear me apart or ask hard questions I don’t know and they won’t like my answers or something, so I think this is a really good way to get scientists to realise that it’s actually not that scary and they actually are interested in science. If you’re excited they’ll be excited. So it’s a really good way to get scientists to do outreach.”

Visit Science Calling! for more science related treats.

Posted on December 13, 2012 modemily in International, Project News, Science Engagement | Leave a comment

Job Vacancies

I’m a Scientist, Get me out of here is an award-winning online event allowing teenagers to interact with real live scientists. We’re looking for 5 moderators to work on the next event which will run from the 12th to the 23rd of March. I’m an Engineer is launched at the same time and also needs moderating!

Your job would be hosting/moderating live chats, approving questions, checking the site for errors and inappropriate content and helping to run the site. It’s actually a lot of fun as the young people are sparky and funny and full of energy. And hey, promoting science engagement is a good thing.

You should be bright, pick stuff up easily, ideally with an interest in science engagement. You’ll have great attention to detail and will enjoy being online. The site is all built on WordPress, so if you’ve used that the techy stuff will be pretty familiar. You’d be working from home, so you must also have broadband.

Please send a CV and short covering letter ASAP (by this Friday 2nd March), to Shamini, telling us why you think you’d be a good moderator. Feel free to give us a ring to find out more about the job – 07527 021004.

  • Dates: 12th – 23rd March (weekdays)
  • Hours: 37.5/week, 08.30-16.00 GMT
  • Pay: £7.50/hr

You can find out more about the events at: imascientist.org.uk and imanengineer.org.uk.

Posted on February 27, 2012 in IAS Event, News, Science Engagement | Leave a comment

Evaluating the Impacts of engagement

How can we evaluate the impact on students taking part in I’m a Scientist? Can we measure if they’re more likely to take a STEM subject at A Level? If they’re more likely to study science at University? How should we use the large amounts of data generated by online projects? How can we share our evaluation in a more useful way?

These are just some of the questions we’re trying to answer about evaluating I’m a Scientist and other Gallomanor run projects. Judging from the first in a series of seminars looking at Evaluating Impacts of Public Engagement and Non-Formal Learning, last Friday 4th November, others are thinking along the same lines.

The Core Issues & Debates seminar kicked off the series at the Dana Centre in London, and bought together a range of researchers, evaluators and learning and communication practitioners. Future seminars focus on areas such as how to reach new audiences, evaluating online engagement and using qualitative evaluation methods.

The 7 speakers approached evaluating impacts from different views – funding, strategy, science festivals, academic, and museums/science centres. There were some key themes that emerged during each of the 20 minute talks and the resultant Q+A sessions. (It would have been useful to have a bit more time for Q+A discussion after each speaker, as the allocated 10 minutes were quickly eaten into.)

  1. Evaluation needs to be shared with others so all projects are ‘learning projects’. The British Science Association’s Collective Memory is a good place to start. It’s worth constantly thinking about how to improve evaluation during a project, such as changing evaluation questions so they return more useful responses.
  2. Evaluation is very important right from the grant application stage at the start of a project, but shouldn’t be done for the sake of it, or just because funders ask for it.
  3. There are still lots of questions unanswered about how to evaluate and measure the impacts of an engagement project. Is it really possible to measure if students are more engaged with or interested about science as a direct result of one activity? Is it enough to accept your activity is one of many factors that may have influenced a change seen? These will hopefully be explored further, and maybe even answered, in future seminars in the series.
  4. Negativity can be hard to capture in evaluation. Evaluation studies can therefore be designed to try and capture negativity, such as framing questions to encourage participants to think not just about the positives of the event.
  5. Bad evaluation that draws inaccurate or invalid conclusions from data can be more damaging than no evaluation.

Overall it was a useful introduction and summary of how impacts are being evaluated. Armed with my 7 pages of dense notes scribbled during the seminar we’re now working out how to put some of these ideas into practice with I’m a Scientist. This will likely spark another post in due course.

Click on the RSS symbol at the top left of the page to subscribe to the blog, or register for email updates.

Posted on November 9, 2011 in Evaluation, IAS Event, News, Science Engagement | Leave a comment

Science Communication Conference: call for proposals

The logo for the British Science AssociationThe British Science Association have asked us for a guest blog spot to promote their conference. The theme is ‘online science engagement’ and we rule at that:-) (Don’t believe me? Check what happens if you google online science engagement. Four of the top links are about IAS. Yes, you’re right, I do deserve a raise, don’t I?)

Naturally the I’m a Scientist team will be proposing a session on what we’ve learnt about online engagement by running this event. Hopefully we’ll see you there!

The Wellcome Trust and the Science in Society team at the British Science Association are working in partnership to organise the 2011 Science Communication Conference taking place on Wednesday 25 and Thursday 26 May 2011 at Kings Place, London.

The Conference addresses the key issues facing science communicators in the UK. Each year brings together people who are involved in public engagement – a diverse group of people from a broad range of backgrounds. It is a fantastic opportunity to network, share ideas and good practice.

Call for Proposals

We have now opened a call for proposals for sessions to contribute to the programme.

This year’s programme will explore a variety of subjects and will also feature a themed strand of ‘Online Engagement’, which aims to discuss the developing and evolving world of online science communication.

We also welcome any other suggestions that debate, consider and celebrate the diverse community.

If you would like to submit a session idea please visit our website.

You can also view programmes and reports from previous conferences on the website.

The deadline for submitting your proposal is Friday 26 November 2010.

To discuss your idea prior to submission, please contact Alice Taylor-Gee, 020 7019 4940, email alice.taylor-gee@britishscienceassociation.org.

We look forward to seeing you in 2011!

Save the date in your diaries and follow @SciCommConf on Twitter for regular updates (hashtag #SCC2011).

Posted on November 22, 2010 modshane in Science Engagement | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The arguments for young people's involvement in decisions about science funding

The following is a version of an article I wrote for the British Science Association’s magazine in May 2009. It puts forward some arguments for why I think young people should be involved in decisions about science funding. I’m posting it now because it’s relevant to conversations we were having on twitter yesterday.

There are further arguments, not covered here, which are that having to explain their work and its implications to teenagers helps scientists think them through. And that kids are good bullshit detectors. I might get round to writing a post on those aspects one day.

“Interesting but badly paid work on offer” said the email. As an out-of-work TV researcher, paid work sounded good and interesting was even better. I signed up for two weeks as an online moderator for a youth engagement project called I’m a Councillor, Get me out of Here!

The event got young people talking to and voting for their councillors and the way it grabbed me took me by surprise.

The young people were honest, earnest, sparky, warm – and so frustrated. I began to see that our society scapegoats and marginalises young people, and that this wasn’t the way to help them grow up happy, sane and integrated into society.

During the event I saw councillors and teenagers making connections. I saw young people blossom as we gave them a voice that was listened to. “Why don’t we do this for science?” I thought.

Several years later we have now run two I’m a Scientist events and they’ve worked even better than I’d hoped. I firmly believe we should go further and use events like this to give young people some real input into funding decisions in science. I think there are several moral arguments for this:-

1. They are the adults of the future.

Young people will be affected by the decisions made now far more than most adults, because they will live with the results for longer. Shouldn’t they have some say in the world we make for them.

2. They are the young people of now.

Even when today’s teenagers are grown up, there will still be new teenagers. If there are ways that teenagers are particularly affected by science and technology then isn’t it only democratic to have some input from actual teenagers?

3. Engagement just has to be two-way.

If we want people to engage with science, then it can’t be a one-way street. People aren’t just an audience for our clever science, nor just a chequebook to pay for it. If we want their attention and their money then we need to give them a say too. This argument applies to young people as much as the rest of the population.

I think there’s a pragmatic argument too: people engage much better if they are included, not lectured at. They take more of an interest in things they can affect, they feel ownership over things they’ve been involved with and they learn by doing more than they learn by rote.

So are there risks of giving young people some input into funding decisions? Well, some would suggest young people might make the ‘wrong’ decisions. I’m not sure how we know what the ‘right’ decisions are though. If wrong means ‘not the same as the experts’, then surely all arguments for public participartion fall at the same hurdle?

Another objection I’ve heard is that it would trivialise the funding process (and by extension, science). It’s the people who haven’t taken part in the event who think this.

I’ve stood in a classroom observing an I’m a Scientist lesson, eavesdropping on a group of young people fiercely disagreeing about which scientist to vote for. One scientist was trying to reduce road deaths, another developing anti-cancer drugs. The students earnestly argued back and forth about the numbers killed on the roads or by cancer, whether that was all cancers or just specific ones, how many a given treatment might save, how to factor in people not killed but maimed.

Most young people take the responsibility they’ve been given very seriously – the more so because they appreciate that they’ve been trusted with something, which is not the way they are normally treated by the adult world.  It is my experience that, given the chance, young people are very capable of making informed and considered decisions. So let’s give them the chance.

Posted on October 28, 2010 modshane in Science Engagement | Leave a comment

Beyond Blogging event teaser

Do you think science is perfect, or is there something about it you want to change? And can the internet help you do it?

What these, and many more questions have in common is that they partly have to do with communication, and communication is something that the internet is good at. Here at Gallomanor, we’ve been involved in democratic engagement using online tools since 2002.

We are total fans of things like They Work For You, which makes it easy for everyone to find out what their MP is up to, and contact them. We’re fans of Armchair Auditor, which lets you see how your council spends your money. We’re fans of TextSafe Gorton, which makes it easier for a local community to engage with the police in their area.

We think these are simple things which make a difference. Are there things like this that science could do with all the online technologies now available, that we haven’t thought of yet? To put it bluntly, are we missing any tricks?

If so, we want to help! So we’ve decided, with the help of the marvellous Wellcome Trust, to try to do something about it. We’re bringing together a range of people involved in science, science engagement and science policy, along with some hackers and developers from the online civil society scene, to see what they can all spark off in each other.

Event will take place on the afternoon of Wednesday 20th October, at the Wellcome Trust. Put it in your diary! Tickets will be released early next week.

Posted on October 1, 2010 modshane in Project News, Science Education, Science Engagement | Leave a comment

Beyond Blogging: Science engagement online can do more!

I’m making this very quick post as twitter is awash today with people protesting about Vince Cable’s remarks on proposed science budget cuts.

Back in July Shane and I went to Alice Bell’s excellent talkfest on science blogging. Shane then wrote this typically provocative post about how the bloggers weren’t being ambitious enough – why did nobody want to change the world?

Blogs are fantastic, not to diss blogs at all, but there’s a lot more that can be done online than writing blog posts. We decided that instead of just whinging, we should put our money where our mouth is, and do something to help!

We are now planning a workshop/get-together called Beyond Blogging. This would bring together people from the worlds of science, science communication and engagement, with some of the hackers and doers involved in civil society online engagement, to see what interesting ideas and projects could be sparked off by it.

The event will be on 20th October, in central London. If you are interested in taking part, or have ideas about who we should invite, please let us know in the comments.

Posted on September 8, 2010 modshane in Science Engagement | Leave a comment

Supplementary questions

Lots of people have written back to me with comments on the draft plans for the teacher packs. Thanks everyone!

Continue reading

Posted on March 18, 2008 modshane in Evaluation, Science Engagement | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments