Category Archives: Teachers

Providing STEM opportunities for distant schools

“As we are a remote rural community we do not have a huge variety of careers on our doorstep but these events help to bring them closer to pupils. More students should be getting these funded opportunities across the UK.” – Emily Tulloch, Science teacher on the island of Unst.


The most northerly school in the UK is located in one of our most distant areas in the Shetland Isles. Emily tells us how I’m a Scientist allowed her remote students to explore a range of STEM careers and increased motivation to learn science.

Why apply for I’m a Scientist?

“For me, it’s all about increasing Science Capital.” Emily often tries to provide STEM opportunities in school, particularly to help students broaden their understanding of careers, but it can be a challenge. “The STEM ambassador programme is great and we have a number of ambassadors based in Shetland. However there are significant barriers for them to reach the school – it can take almost a day to visit for a 1 hour talk and of course there’s the cost implication too.”

The school often rely on parents to demonstrate different careers to students “we’re lucky that our community is so supportive and parents working in STEM are very willing to visit the school, although the variety of careers is still limited on our island”. Emily wanted to use I’m a Scientist to increase the range of STEM roles her students find out about.

What did the students do?

The 17 students in S1-3 (Year 7-9) took part in the Molecule Zone this March. They read scientists’ profiles and posted questions to scientists on the site throughout the 2 weeks. Students also took part in a 30 minute live chat session where they typed their questions and responses to scientists online in real time.

Emily used the activity to connect to curriculum areas and the careers work going on in school. “It’s a broad activity so easy to link to something we’re doing or have just covered in class. I also tie I’m a Scientist into the My World of Work, which our students access to find out where they could study the course or the career steps required for their preferred role.”

Did it work?

Being online, I’m a Scientist provided a chance for Emily’s students to connect with scientists in a large variety of roles, generating interest in STEM careers without the need to travel. “They see different careers we don’t have in the local area by chatting with scientists all across the globe…There are lots of young people who live in remote areas compared to the rest of UK and they should all get same opportunities; this activity allowed me to provide this at no cost to the school.”

Emily also told us how involvement in the activity has improved science learning in her classes “It’s engaging and stimulating for students to actually speak to live scientists doing real-life science and discuss what they think might happen in the future. When students are engaged and start to see the real life impact of a subject, they’re more enthusiastic about it – I noticed an increased motivation to learn following I’m a Scientist.”

What else did students gain?

Asking questions to the scientists allowed Emily’s students to “develop essential literacy and communication skills, particularly in the live chat where they have to consider how to engage in a group conversation” whilst “researching the scientists helped them learn how to find information online.”

Emily also commented on how the activity is good for students’ health and wellbeing, by using the internet chats as a relevant educational tool “students like communicating in this way online and this activity helps promote positive online communication and staying safe online, rather than fighting against social media and similar technology in school.”

What would you say to a teacher who is hesitant to take part?

“Give it a go – it’s amazing and you don’t realise the full impact before you take part but afterwards, you realise how hugely beneficial it is, especially for students in rural communities. The whole process has knock on effects for your science teaching as students are more engaged. It’s very stimulating for science and every pupil should have access to it.”


Distant (under-served) schools are given priority places in I’m a Scientist. To support your students in exploring a range of STEM careers with I’m a Scientist activities, register your interest here: imascientist.org.uk/teachers or contact katie@mangorol.la for more information.

Already registered? Don’t forget to apply for the next event – we email registered teachers when applications open (about 2 months before the event starts).


 

Posted on April 6, 2018 modkatie in Case Study, Evaluation, News, Teachers, Widening Participation | Leave a comment

Broadening horizons for students in a deprived area

“It was a really easy project to engage with for both children and teachers; it only took me about 30 minutes to prepare for all 3 lessons. I was pleasantly surprised with just how excited students were to get responses from serious adults about their work and the adults’ interests.” – Vicky Heslop, Year 6 teacher


A junior school that meets our widening participation criteria took part in the Climate Zone of I’m a Scientist for the first time in March 2018 with their three Year 6 classes. The activity broadened student aspirations, improved enquiry skills and challenged their perceptions of scientists.

Why apply for I’m a Scientist?

The school is in a small town with low levels of aspiration and social mobility where very few young people go on to higher education. 47.5% of students at the school qualify for Pupil Premium funding and the proportion of free school meals eligible students is over twice the national average.

Teachers were finding it difficult to promote working scientifically skills and to support students in developing an enquiring attitude within the curriculum. “We wanted to provide a broader experience of what science is and to increase student aspirations,” says Vicky.

What did students do?

The activity was spread across 3 lessons on different days which Vicky felt was “particularly good for the anxious students in Year 6, allowing them to ‘take a break’ from SATs preparations with something that was still a valuable use of time.” Students started by considering how to judge the scientists, then got to know them using their profiles and asking questions on the site. The final lesson involved an online chat where students typed their questions and responses to scientists online in real time. “Connecting with the scientists online provided an opportunity to have positive social contact with adults in roles they wouldn’t normally have contact with,” observed Vicky.

Did it work?

Vicky told us science has become more relevant and attainable for students and how their aspirations have broadened to include science – “After the live chat, students were telling me how they’d like to become scientists.”

Students’ perceptions of scientists have changed as a result of taking part – “I thought scientists were boring but now I think they’re AWESOME!” – Year 6 student

What else did students gain?

“Students developed oracy skills,” says Vicky “and the ability to ask appropriate questions.” Vicky also explained how the school has had issues with inappropriate use of instant messaging and how I’m a Scientist was “a great way to demonstrate a positive use of this technology,” helping students learn appropriate online etiquette.

When asked if she’ll take part next year, Vicky says “I hope to and I’ll be telling the other teachers about the activity as it’s such a good one for our students.”


If you’d like to broaden your students’ aspirations with I’m a Scientist activities, register your interest here: imascientist.org.uk/teachers

Already registered? Don’t forget to apply for the next event – we email registered teachers when applications open (about 2 months before the event starts).

 

Posted on March 27, 2018 modkatie in Case Study, Evaluation, Teachers, Widening Participation | Leave a comment

Increasing demand and charges for independent schools

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 with the June 2016 events, fee paying schools can choose to pay £100, for every class of students, in order to guarantee participation in the event. This money will go towards providing additional zones.

We’re aware that some of the teachers who have participated the most in the past will be affected by this change. We truly hope that you will be able to take part. In order to guarantee your spaces please email michaela@mangorol.la.

 

Posted on April 11, 2016 Moderator - Josh in Capacity, General, News, Project News, School, Science Education, Teachers | 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

What criteria do students judge scientists on?

When students take part in I’m a Scientist they get to vote for their favourite scientist to win £500 to spend on communicating more science. It gives them ownership of the project and they decide who gets, in effect, a small grant for public engagement. But what are students’ votes based on?

This is how 855 students (or groups of students) have ranked certain criteria from most to least important when considering how to vote for scientists, since January 2012. The results come from a Drag & Drop ranking activity in the first lesson plan “You’re the Judges” that teachers run to introduce their students to I’m a Scientist.

Voting ranking criteria

The top ranked criteria are all linked to health or the scientific method. This is reflected in the number of questions students ask scientists about saving lives and animal testing. Reassuringly, the more superficial criteria lurk at the bottom of the list.

Other criteria that students suggested include:

“Abides to Scientists ethics, and morals”

“A person that thinks ‘outside the box’. Confident person. Optimistic person”

“Enthusiasm”

“How much they believe in and care about their work”

“The speed that they answer my questions. Also if they turn up for a chat”

“How great their beards are”

“If the scientist works at weekends (as well as during the week)”

And finally, the crux of all scientific research:

“Whether their tests are fair or not”

One teacher commented that, “the class disagreed on the ‘good-looking’ criteria because some feel that people are judged by first impressions and looks are included in that”.

Teachers, how do these criteria compare to how your students judge the scientists? Did students generally agree on the rankings or did certain criteria provoke more discussions than others?

Posted on November 8, 2013 in Evaluation, IAS Event, News, Teachers | Leave a comment

SLC Future Engagement Project Poll

Rank these possible features with the most important at the top.

Posted on July 11, 2013 ModShane in Teachers | Comments Off on SLC Future Engagement Project Poll