Category Archives: Science Engagement

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 | Comments Off on Organising schools visits from IAS scientists – a teacher’s view

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 in Event News, IAS Event, Science Engagement | Comments Off on June 2013 Moderator Job Vacancies

Who are you Twitter?

We’re always evaluating the online STEM enrichment activity, I’m a Scientistto explore its impact and how it can be improved. Check out latest evaluation posts.

As we prepped for our Science Communication Conference 2013 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 admin in Evaluation, Science Engagement | Comments Off on Who are you Twitter?

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 | Comments Off on Valeria shares her I’m a Scientist experience

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 in Event News, IAS Event, Science Engagement | Comments Off on March 2013 Moderator Job Vacancies

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 in Event News, IAS Event, News, Science Engagement | Comments Off on We’re oversubscribed with teachers wanting to take part in March

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 in International, Project News, Science Engagement | Comments Off on Space Zone winner Paul Higgins on Science Calling!

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 | Comments Off on Job Vacancies

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 | Comments Off on Evaluating the Impacts of engagement

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 in Science Engagement | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Science Communication Conference: call for proposals

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 in Science Engagement | Comments Off on The arguments for young people's involvement in decisions about science funding

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 in Project News, Science Education, Science Engagement | Comments Off on Beyond Blogging event teaser

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 in Science Engagement | Comments Off on Beyond Blogging: Science engagement online can do more!

Supplementary questions

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

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

How to write a killer grant application

I have been wandering around the office looking smug at people today, and was even, at one point, quite tempted to do a little victory dance. Why was that, you say? Ah, I’m glad you asked!

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Posted on March 6, 2008 admin in Project News, Science Engagement | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on How to write a killer grant application