Category Archives: Zone Reports

MRC Festival Zone 2018 Zone Report

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The MRC Festival Zone was a four-week-long event funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC) as part of the MRC Festival of Medical Research. There were 25 MRC scientists and support staff taking part.

32 schools from all over the UK participated in the zone, with 1,404 students logging in over the four weeks. Over half the schools were widening participation and/or under-served. Teachers from 45 schools accepted places in the zone. However, several were unable to participate, mostly due to scheduling difficulties.

In the Ask section students asked 740 approved questions. Of these, over 50% were relating to science and medical research topics, a figure higher than the average for an I’m a Scientist two-week, general science zone.

76 online, text-based live chats took place during the MRC Festival Zone, three of which were evening chats, where students could access the chat from home to show their families, increasing parental engagement with the activities students do in school.

Posted on August 3, 2018 modmichaela in 2018, MRC, Zone Reports | Leave a comment

Food Zone Report – June 2018

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The Food Zone was supported by Wellcome and involved six scientists.

  • Stephen models the environmental impact of livestock farming, and looks at the effect of food sharing on the sustainability of food systems in cities
  • Simran is a PhD student using design and technology to tackle the problem of food production and consumption in future cities
  • Paul is researching how to get the most from permanent grassland, including food production, supporting wildlife and reducing the risk of flooding
  • Mark is looking at Salmonella Typhimurium: how it responds to different conditions, its physical characteristics and the genes within the bacteria
  • Jenny is looking at the effects different types of fishing can have on the environment, helping make fish products more ‘eco-friendly’
  • Ali, the winner of the Food Zone, is a sports nutritionist who works with athletes to find out how foods can make you better at sports

In this zone there were great conversations between students and scientists about all things to do with food. The winner of the zone, Ali, attended nearly every live chat and made up over half of all chat lines from scientists.

 

Posted on July 17, 2018 modamy in 2018, Wellcome Trust, Zone Reports | Leave a comment

Heart Zone Report – June 2018

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The Heart Zone was a primary school zone supported by Wellcome.

  • Samuel, the winner of the zone, works on new technologies for assessing the state of the heart and its arteries
  • Pankaj is a doctor and scientist, who also lectures in cardiovascular medicine
  • Lucy looks at the heart and blood vessels of unborn babies to see how they are affected by changes in their environment
  • Kate is studying for her PhD and is focusing on the shape of the heart in patients with aortic stenosis
  • Jordan processes blood samples, separating them into groups and filtering them before they are ready for testing
  • Emma programs pacemakers, monitors patients during operations and performs ultrasound scans on the heart in her work at a hospital

Students in this zone were very excited to talk with scientists which came across in the lively and fun chats. Students wanted to know about all things to do with the heart, as well as getting to know the scientists on a personal level.

 

Posted on July 17, 2018 modamy in 2018, Wellcome Trust, Zone Reports | Leave a comment

Healthy Cities Zone Report – June 2018

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The Healthy Cities Zone was supported by Wellcome and encouraged students to think about how we could build healthier places for us to live.

  • Urslaan is a data scientist who makes sure databases for roads, railways and other transport are correct
  • Nicola is an environmental geologist, looking at maps and ground investigation information to test the soil for chemicals
  • Helen specialises in designing infrastructures for cyclists and pedestrians
  • Daniel, the winner of the Healthy Cities Zone, is an environmental scientist who measures air pollution within the demolition and construction industries
  • Becky teaches courses in ecology and conservation and researches how people’s actions affect wildlife
  • Andrew is an environmental scientist looking at how we pollute our environment, the impact of this influence and possible solutions

This was the busiest zone in June’s event, with the highest number of students logging in and questions in Ask. We also ran an evening chat in every zone for students to show their families the zone, and 20 students from the Healthy Cities Zone logged in from home to chat again with the scientists.

 

Posted on July 17, 2018 modamy in 2018, Wellcome Trust, Zone Reports | Leave a comment

Society Zone Report – June 2018

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The Society Zone was a themed psychology zone, funded by the British Psychological Society, with six psychologists taking part.

  • Stephen is a PhD student looking at the biases that people tell themselves, and how to encourage happiness from rational thoughts
  • Maria is interested in how words are organised and divided into categories in our brains
  • John is a lecturer and forensic psychologist working in a secure hospital to treat mentally unwell offenders
  • Daniel, the winner in this zone, researches why some people believe in conspiracy theories
  • Claire is studying language for her PhD, specifically the way we talk about alcoholism and drinking
  • Amy is a lecturer interested in the differences in how Autistic and Neuro-typical people see the world

This zone was very on topic with students engaging really well with the theme. They could easily relate a lot of the psychologists’ research to their own lives, such as Amy’s work with autism and Stephen’s research into happiness.

This zone had a higher number of sixth form classes than normal, and as these have smaller class sizes the chats and Ask were quieter than expected. In the future, we will be over-filling psychology zones to compensate for having fewer students.

 

Posted on July 17, 2018 modamy in 2018, BPS, Zone Reports | Leave a comment

Wellbeing Zone Report – June 2018

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The Wellbeing Zone had five psychologists and was supported by The British Psychological Society.

  • Viren is a social psychologist studying body image, how we feel and think about our bodies, and how we can develop a more positive view
  • Sam, the winner of the Wellbeing Zone, is a PhD student researching self-control and how this can cause people to drink more, or less, alcohol
  • Noel lectures in sport and exercise psychology and is interested in how a person’s thoughts while exercising influences their performance
  • Amy is a biomedical scientist who uses rats to investigate the relationship between happy moods and how often we eat
  • Abby is a health psychologist looking to find the most effective ways to help people quit smoking

A sixth member of the zone unfortunately had to drop out early in the first week due to personal circumstances and will be included in a future zone.

This zone was quieter than other zones in June’s event, due to a higher number of sixth form classes than normal taking part, with small class sizes. We anticipate more sixth form classes will apply for future psychology zones, so will be over-filling these zones to compensate for the smaller student numbers.

 

Posted on July 17, 2018 modamy in 2018, BPS, Zone Reports | Leave a comment

Berkelium Zone Report – June 2018

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The Berkelium Zone was a general science zone supported by Wellcome.

  • Yewande is researching the use of nitric oxide as an anaesthetic and the affect the gas has on brain cells
  • Tim is studying earthquakes and how they behave, the dangers they pose and the opportunities they offer
  • Melanie is a technician in the Biomedical Science department at the University of Sheffield
  • Hayley is a PhD student using mathematics to model WiFi signals
  • Carl is a manager at a chemical plant responsible for the quality and productivity the plant delivers
  • Alex, the winner in this zone, is studying the impact of non-native plants on small rivers and streams

Students in this zone really engaged with the scientists’ work, as well as generally about areas such as space and animals, with nearly half of all questions asked being about science topics.

We also ran an evening chat in every zone for students to access from home and show their families, increasing parental engagement with the activities students are doing in school. The Berkelium Zone evening chat was the busiest out of all the zones, with 27 students logging in from home to chat again with the scientists.

 

Posted on July 17, 2018 modamy in 2018, Wellcome Trust, Zone Reports | Leave a comment

Californium Zone Report – June 2018

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The Californium Zone was a general science zone supported by Wellcome, with six scientists from a range of fields.

  • Thomas investigates the earth beneath our feet to make sure buildings and tunnels don’t collapse, and homes don’t flood
  • Hayley works in cellular pathology, turning biopsies into slides to help diagnose a patient
  • Ella, the winner of this zone, is a first-year PhD student researching how neurons talk to each other
  • David designs and builds new CT scanners for research in dentistry
  • Alison is a PhD student researching how to utilise microalgae for biotechnology applications
  • Alex is a neurosurgeon in training, performing brain and spine surgeries

Students engaged well with the scientists’ research, with one of the most popular topics both in Ask and Chat being Ella and Alex’s work with the brain. This zone was the quietest of all June’s zones as two schools with a number of classes unfortunately had to drop out at the start of the event, and we weren’t able to replace them.

 

Posted on July 17, 2018 modamy in 2018, Wellcome Trust, Zone Reports | Leave a comment

Climate Zone Report – March 2018

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The Climate Zone was supported by Wellcome and specifically for students in Year 6 and Year 7. In this zone, we worked with a PhD researcher who will be analysing the language of the questions asked to find out what students think about the climate. Because of this, we asked teachers not to brief their class on the climate before taking part. We edited the questions on the profiles of the scientists to try and prompt students to think about the climate, and within chats moderators encouraged students to stay on topic.

Six scientists took part in the zone: Stephen is a Climate and Environmental Specialist for the United Nations, Stephanie, the winner of the zone, is looking for ways to improve wind turbines to make renewable energy cheaper and Rehemat is studying 50 million year old plankton fossils to see how they lived through climate change. Christopher writes computer code that generates weather forecasts, Caroline is a social scientist studying the public’s attitudes to climate change and Aileen is a PhD student looking at how fungi react to extra greenhouse gases to predict how forests will grow in the future.

 

Posted on April 17, 2018 modmichaela in 2018, Wellcome Trust, Zone Reports | Comments Off on Climate Zone Report – March 2018

Enquiry Zone Report – March 2018

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The Enquiry Zone was supported by Wellcome and was for Year 6 students to work with scientists to develop a citizen science project. The scientists involved each suggested a research idea which they refined with the students in the live chats and ASK section, and students then voted for the project they most wanted to carry out at their school.

Sakshi wanted to work with students to find out how boys and girls are different from each other, Martin’s experiment idea was to measure the breath of students and see if that could tell us how students feel during the day and Luke wanted to find out what students think about regenerative medicine and stem cells. Jennifer, the winner of this zone, proposed a project that would look at how much primary school students knew about their own bodies and Dan wanted to find out whether students were able to pace themselves during physical activity.

This was the second Enquiry Zone we have run, and this time we changed the scientists’ profile questions so they could focus on the aims and method of their experiment ideas. As with the Enquiry Zone we ran last March, the best chats were those where students had been briefed by their teacher beforehand and had had a chance to discuss the scientists’ experiment ideas before meeting them.

As the event went on, all of the scientists improved how they spoke to students within the live chats and learnt to prompt the students with questions about their projects to engage them in conversation.

 

Posted on April 17, 2018 modmichaela in 2018, Wellcome Trust, Zone Reports | Comments Off on Enquiry Zone Report – March 2018

Genes Zone Report – March 2018

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The Genes Zone was a themed zone supported by Wellcome. Yinka is studying the DNA of cows in Africa to improve the amount of milk they can produce, Stéphane is researching the effect different lifestyles have on human sperm quality and Matt is a bioinformatician making pictures to explain patterns in gut microbes. Juhi is a PhD student researching genetic causes of pregnancy complications, Gemma teaches NHS staff about genetics and how it can help them provide better care for patients and David, the winner of this zone, is a postdoctoral research fellow studying the genetics of depression.

Students were very engaged with the zone theme and over 50% of questions in ASK were about science topics, relating to all things genetics. The scientists were great at explaining things in a way students could understand and often provided videos and links to support their answers.

Posted on April 17, 2018 modmichaela in 2018, Wellcome Trust, Zone Reports | Comments Off on Genes Zone Report – March 2018

Immune System Zone Report – March 2018

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The Immune System Zone was supported by Wellcome. Sian is researching new medicines through microbial fermentation, Max (the winner of this zone) is a PhD student using gene editing to understand how white blood cells cause cancer and Lizzie works with biotech companies to help them communicate information about diseases to doctors. Francis is a post-doctoral researcher finding out how we can use a patient’s immune cells to fight cancer, Ben works in an immunology lab finding new ways to help people with arthritis and Ashlea is a PhD student studying how the immune system works and how it can go wrong.

This zone had the highest number of questions asked (897) and approved (489) out of all the zones in March’s event, with students engaging well with the topic and wanting to find out more about the scientists’ work. There was an even mix of questions about science topics, how science works and careers.

Posted on April 17, 2018 modmichaela in 2018, Wellcome Trust, Zone Reports | Comments Off on Immune System Zone Report – March 2018

Space Data Zone Report – March 2018

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The Space Data Zone was funded by the UK Space Agency. Tim, the winner of this zone, is a PhD student investigating waves that happen over and inside the sun, Stephen is using space telescopes to find out how the first stars formed and Sammie is using data from satellites to work out how much sea ice is in the Arctic. Rachel is looking water supply in the environment using information from satellites, Mark is a PhD student studying the most ancient light in the universe and Lisa uses radars, cameras and rockets to find out how the magnetic fields of the Sun and the Earth interact.

Students in this zone engaged really well with the zone theme, with lots of interest in space and the work of the scientists. Lisa took part in the event from where she lives and works in Svalbard, and students were interested in what it was like to live there.

Posted on April 17, 2018 modmichaela in 2018, UKSA, Zone Reports | Comments Off on Space Data Zone Report – March 2018

Americium Zone Report – March 2018

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The Americium Zone was a general science zone supported by Wellcome, with six scientists all working in different areas. Walaa is a PhD student studying bee behaviour, Sophie, the winner of the zone, is a PhD student looking at human impact on the climate and Sarah is an air quality specialist predicting future air quality levels. Gabriel is a biomedical scientist working with doctors to find out which patients need a pacemaker, Breandan is a Geohazard Specialist working out where it is safe to build on a seabed and Adam is working on a new vaccine for malaria.

This zone had the highest number of students logging in – over 600 – out off all the zones this March. Sophie, the winner of this zone, accounted for 64% of all live chat lines throughout the two weeks.

Posted on April 17, 2018 modmichaela in 2018, Wellcome Trust, Zone Reports | Comments Off on Americium Zone Report – March 2018

Curium Zone Report – March 2018

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The Curium Zone was a general science zone supported by Wellcome, with six scientists all working in different areas. Matthew works for the Institute of Cancer research detecting cancer in blood, Kezia is a PhD student developing new solar cells and Jacque, the winner of this zone, is researching ways to increase the yields of nematodes to control insects on crops. Hazel is a geologist researching how people think and talk about geology, Fiona is a PhD student in mathematical biology finding out how our immune system can fight cancer and Daniel is a director of an environmental planning consultancy providing soil science advice.

The Curium Zone was quiet with a below average number of students logging in. This zone had a huge range of questions asked and 94% of students logged in were active in ASK, Chat or Vote – higher than the average for March’s zones.

Posted on April 17, 2018 modmichaela in 2018, Wellcome Trust, Zone Reports | Comments Off on Curium Zone Report – March 2018

Molecule Zone Report – March 2018

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The Molecule Zone was a chemistry themed zone funded by ScotCHEM to provide places for schools in remote parts of Scotland and the north of England. Seven scientists took part from the seven major Chemistry research universities in Scotland. Shuo is a PhD student creating artificial human tissue, Neil (the winner of the zone) is a teaching fellow and researcher creating new functional molecules, Martin is an Astrochemist looking at how molecules control the universe and Leonie is a PhD student finding cheaper ways to create new compounds that can be used in medicine. Lauren is finding new ways to tackle diseases, Ciorsdaidh is a lecturer in organic chemistry who specialises in cancer research and Alan uses catalysts to make chemicals in an environmentally friendly way.

This was a quiet zone compared to the rest of the zones in March, with a lower than average number of students logging in (318). This could be because school sizes are generally smaller in remote areas, resulting in a smaller number of students in a class. There was also disruption for many schools in the area due to heavy snowfall the week before the event.

Posted on April 17, 2018 modmichaela in 2018, ScotCHEM, Zone Reports | Comments Off on Molecule Zone Report – March 2018

CHRISTMAS LECTURES 2017 Zone Report

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The CHRISTMAS LECTURES Zone of I’m a Scientist was commissioned by The Royal Institution with support from Lloyd’s Register Foundation. The online event allowed school students, the viewing public and Lecture attendees to continue the conversation about the Royal Institution’s CHRISTMAS LECTURES, ‘The Language of Life’ and its theme of communication. The Royal Institution wanted to create a focus for the online discussion and during the planning stages, the topic of Privacy was identified as a pertinent topic within the wider theme of communication. A Privacy Debate Kit was also developed and sent to teachers participating in the zone to use as part of this activity. The Kit structures a class debate around the question “Should mobile phones be always listening?”

The 18 experts online included the 2017 Christmas Lecturer, Professor Sophie Scott, along with others from the CHRISTMAS LECTURES team and other communication and privacy experts. Sophie’s presence on the site was great, answering 42 questions in ASK across the four weeks. Attendees at the filming of the Lectures could submit written questions to the site using question cards and have answers from experts emailed to them. A total of 18 audience members submitted questions using these cards. Overall the Zone was focused around the themes of privacy and communication, the Lectures themselves and the work of each expert. A number of classes had taken part in a privacy debate before their live chat which was evident from the privacy-related questions posed to the experts. The school students taking part were on topic in live chats with experts and in the ASK section.

School uptake for this event was much higher than the previous year with 898 registered school users from 36 schools in 2017-18. 11 of those schools were under-served (distant), 7 were widening participation and 3 were outside the UK.

Posted on February 28, 2018 modkatie in 2017 | Comments Off on CHRISTMAS LECTURES 2017 Zone Report

25 Genomes Zone Report

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25 Genomes was funded by the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute as part of their 25th Anniversary celebrations. In 2018, the Institute is going to decode the DNA of 25 UK species for the first time, five of which have been decided by the 25 Genomes public vote.

Over five weeks, scientists and wildlife experts championed species they thought deserved to have their entire DNA decoded. They competed for votes across five Zones from school students and the public, and answered questions about everything to do with their species and genome sequencing. A variety of different scientists took part, including some working at the Sanger Institute, scientists from the Natural History Museum, PhD researchers and conservation workers. Some species were championed by teams, such as the Asian Hornet whose team consisted of experts in the UK, France and Italy.

Schools all over the UK were involved, as well as schools in Ireland, Europe and the USA. Around 2,000 students took part in nearly 120 Live Chats with the Species Champions, as well as sending them 600 questions in the ASK section. As well as students, over 3,000 members of the public logged in to have their say, and many Species Champions campaigned for their species online resulting in Zones with a high number of public users. We also ran two drop-in Live Chats open for the public. In total, there were nearly 5,000 votes.

Posted on December 21, 2017 modmichaela in 2017, Sanger Institute, Zone Reports | Comments Off on 25 Genomes Zone Report

Cells Zone Report – November 2017

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The Cells Zone was a themed Zone, funded by Wellcome, with six scientists for students to meet. Tom is a PhD student studying how white blood cells fight bacteria in our lungs, Paul is a research fellow studying how egg cells and embryos grow and Natasha is looking into how to use a patient’s own cells to kill their cancer. Ildiko is a lecturer in cell biology and genomics, Ester is studying how cells work together in the gut when we are healthy, and how this is altered when we get sick, and Eoin is a research fellow trying to understand how to treat our immune system when it’s not working properly.

Conversations in the Cells Zone were on topic, with students really interested in the scientists’ research areas as well working as a scientist. All of the scientists were great at explaining their work as well as the more complicated aspects of cell biology. Natasha was the winning scientist in this Zone and was also the most active, making up almost 50% of all Live Chat lines from scientists.

Posted on December 15, 2017 modmichaela in 2017, Wellcome Trust, Zone Reports | Comments Off on Cells Zone Report – November 2017

Gravity Zone Report – November 2017

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The Gravity Zone was a themed zone, funded by the Institute of Physics. In this zone, students met five scientists including Scott, a PhD student researching theoretical physics and Ryan, who is studying explosions caused by black holes and neutron stars. Maggie is a researcher at the European Space Agency mapping out dark matter, Hannah is a PhD student studying gravitational waves and black holes and Daniel studies the data from gravitational wave detectors and simulations.

Students in this Zone were very engaged with theme of gravity and space in general, with a mix of both factual and conceptual questions. All of the scientists were great at explaining sometimes quite complicated topics in a way that younger students could understand, especially within the fast paced Live Chats. The topic seemed to really capture the students’ imaginations and the Chats were lively with lots of positive reactions from students about what they had learnt.

Posted on December 15, 2017 modmichaela in 2017, IOP, Zone Reports | Comments Off on Gravity Zone Report – November 2017